Gunners’ ‘street fighters’ a special breed

FIGHTING INSTINCTS: Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger admires the energy and devilry of Chile international Alexis Sanchez. Picture: Clive Rose

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Arsenal v Burnley
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger insists the fighting instincts shared by Alexis Sanchez and Luis Suarez were honed on the streets of South America.

Wenger admires the energy and devilry of Chile international Sanchez, the Gunners’ £35 million (€44.5m) summer signing from Barcelona, and Uruguay striker Suarez.

The Frenchman believes the dominance of Latin American forwards in European football is a result of the determination needed to succeed in their homelands, while developed countries have become “softer”.

“Look across Europe and where are the strikers from? Many of them, at least 80%, are from South America,” Wenger said.

“Maybe it’s because in Europe street football has gone. In street football when you’re 10-years-old, you want to play with 15-year-olds.

“Then you have to prove you’re good, you have to fight and win impossible balls.

“When it’s all a bit more formalised, it’s less about developing your individual skill and fighting attitude. We’ve lost that a bit.

“Not every South American has that, but if you go back 30 or 40 years in England, life was tougher.

“Society has changed. We’re much more protective than we were 20 or 30 years ago. We have all become a bit softer.”

Sanchez has scored eight goals in 15 appearances since joining Arsenal and Wenger has been impressed with his rapid transition to the Premier League.

“I’m a bit surprised. It’s because he has a particular mental strength,” Wenger said.

“He reminds me of the first generation of English players that I had — Lee Dixon, Steve Bould, Tony Adams, Nigel Winterburn, Martin Keown. This kind who is just ready for the fight.

“It’s natural to Alexis. Every day he wants the ball. He doesn’t walk out, he runs out.

“He has a natural level of energy that is unbelievable. You would love everyone to have that, but unfortunately it doesn’t work like that.

“When you see where he has come from, where he was born, and then he plays for Barcelona and Arsenal, he needs to have something special.”

When asked if Sanchez and Suarez were alike, Wenger replied: “Exactly. When Suarez gives the ball to an opponent, he wins it back straight away.

“Sanchez is the same, there is no time between the offence and defence. The transition is very quick. And they are very quick as well.”

Jack Wilshere has been added to Arsenal’s lengthy injury list but Wenger is hoping to welcome back Olivier Giroud “miles ahead of schedule” in the coming weeks.

Wilshere will miss today’s Premier League clash with Burnley at the Emirates Stadium due to a knee problem and is also a doubt to face Anderlecht in midweek.

But France striker Giroud, who fractured his foot against Everton in late August, is on course to rejoin training next month despite having initially been ruled out until the New Year.

“Olivier is miles ahead of schedule. He’s doing very well,” Wenger said.

Arsenal are targeting a third successive victory when they host Burnley with a three-point haul potentially lifting them into the top four.

A nine-point gap has opened up on Premier League leaders Chelsea and while Wenger refuses to concede the title race, he knows it will take a sustained assault to make up the ground on Jose Mourinho’s team.

“I don’t write us off, let other people do that, but Chelsea are in a strong position at the moment,” Wenger said.

“I believe it would not be realistic to just think now that we’ll catch Chelsea very quickly.

“We have to get consistent results to have a chance of coming back.”

Burnley have yet to win in nine Premier League starts this season and Wenger is ready for them to adopt defensive tactics at the Emirates Stadium.

“It’s absolutely normal that other teams try to stop us from playing our game.

“I can understand that completely,” Wenger said.

“We want to be good enough to get around that and not allow other teams to stop us playing.”

Burnley have already drawn with Manchester United this season and midfielder Scott Arfield hopes being major underdogs can play into his side’s hands.

“There are games that are not in your division,” he said.

“There’s a league within a league and then you go through certain games and think that’s where you’re going to pick up points. But it doesn’t always happen like that and that’s why you need to look at every game the same.

“When you go to Arsenal you need to stick to your game plan. We know how good they are and what quality they possess as a team and individually, but I think if we go there and stay compact and stay in the game then you never know what can happen.”

Players’ Twitter use upsetting Wenger

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger admits he is concerned by his players’ use of social media site Twitter.

QPR defender Rio Ferdinand was recently banned for three games and fined £25,000 (€32,000) because of a tweet he posted.

Wenger said: “We are concerned about Twitter and things going out of the club that should not. It is important to keep that under control. In the modern world that is very difficult but we try.”

Since the FA first exercised its jurisdiction to capture inappropriate comments on social media in the 2010-11 season, it has investigated 121 cases. In 18 of these cases, no further action was taken, 27 resulted in warnings being issued to the participant, 16 resulted in the participant being reminded of their responsibilities and 60 ended in charges being issued. The governing body has collected around £350,000(€447,000) in fines.


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