Arsene Wenger has admitted to “regret and guilt” at Arsenal not beating Leicester to last season’s Premier League title.
Claudio Ranieri’s side completed a remarkable triumph, leaving Wenger and his side second and still without a league title since 2004.
Wenger expects this season to be the most competitive ever, with leading clubs assembling what he termed a “world championship of managers”.
“Who expected Leicester to be champion last season? Nobody,” Wenger said.
“There is always a surprising team, and then you have six or seven big clubs who have the ambition to win it.
“All the big clubs experienced last season a regret and a feeling of guilt but that would take something away from Leicester, who had an exceptional season.
“When you lose only three games in a season in a difficult league like that, you are a fantastic champion.
“(There is) guilt because you would not have predicted Leicester win the league, so all the other teams would say ‘We should have come in front of Leicester’. But they had an exceptional season and you have to congratulate them.”
The long-serving Arsenal boss will be joined in the top flight this season by his old rival Jose Mourinho, back in work at Manchester United, as well as Pep Guardiola at Manchester City and Antonio Conte at Chelsea.
Wenger said: “It’s a very exciting season, there are so many ambitions out there. It’s a little bit of a world championship of managers.
“Let’s not be naive, the economical power of the Premier League attracts the best players and the best managers. If you want quality people, you have to pay the amount of money.
“Today the Premier League is the most powerful as well as the most attractive and maybe the most popular in the world. Every manager thinks today, ‘If I want to be recognised as a top manager, I have to go through the Premier League’.”
Jack Wilshere is again nursing a knee injury as the season approaches, but Wenger is expecting big things from the England midfielder.
“He has a very big year ahead,” Wenger said.
“His preparation was encouraging — he had a little, little setback recently but it looks very minor.
“For us to have a great season, it’s important to have a great Jack Wilshere.”
Wilshere himself added: “I’ve been thinking for a few years that this has got to be the year that I don’t get injured, I thought that last year and then it was my worst year. Hopefully this is the year I get a long run.”
The homegrown player sees no signs of his long-term manager stepping away from the role, despite ongoing speculation, and backed Wenger to hold his own in that “world championship”.
“I see the same hunger, if not even more,” said Wilshere.
“Everyone keeps saying it’s going to be his last year but he keeps going. I think he really feels he can win something and do something special with this team.”
Here’s a little extra sport. Watch the latest BallTalk for the best sports chat and analysis: Who will be Premier League Champions 2016/17?
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