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Arsenal want to avoid slow start as English Premiership returns

By Editor   |   11 August 2017   |   3:50 am  

Arsenal football manager Arsene Wenger answers a question during a press conference on July 11, 2017, ahead of two pre-season football friendly matches against Sydney FC on July 13 and Western Sydney Wanderers on July 15. WILLIAM WEST / AFP


Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger says fierce competition in the English Premier League means his side cannot afford another false start if they are to challenge for the title, reports AFP.

Arsenal have lost three of their last four opening games, with a 4-3 home defeat by Liverpool in 2016 setting the tone for a campaign in which they missed out on Champions League qualification for the first time since 1997.

The Gunners launch the new campaign at home to Leicester City today, and Wenger urged his players to harness the momentum from a promising pre-season that culminated in victory over Chelsea in the Community Shield at Wembley.

“We had some bad starts in the last four years in the first game of the Premiership,” he said in a pre-season pep talk for players. But after an intensive buildup to this season “let’s go into the Premiership with the same discipline, the same spirit, and see where we can go.

“If you look at the Premiership you have seven, eight teams who will say, ‘We can win the Premier League.’ That makes it very interesting.”Arsenal beat Chelsea 4-1 on penalties to win the Community Shield for the third time in four years after the game finished 1-1.

Arsenal were without Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey. Sanchez was taking it easy after the Confederations Cup and the two others were nursing minor injuries. But Wenger said Ozil and Ramsey had “little chance” of facing Leicester.

Wenger also said there was “nothing bad” about an injury sustained against Chelsea by captain Per Mertesacker. He had to go off after being struck accidentally in the face by a Gary Cahill elbow.

Mertesacker’s replacement, Bosnian defender, Sead Kolasinac, impressed with a series of shuddering challenges before cancelling out Victor Moses’ opener with an 81st-minute header.

Alexandre Lacazette, Arsenal’s club- record, 46.5-million (HK$474.8 million) signing from Lyon, had a low-key debut, but Wenger was encouraged, saying: “He needs to adapt to the intensity of the game. I believe he’ll become stronger and stronger.”

Chelsea manager, Antonio Conte cut a frustrated figure and said he was “a bit angry” with referee Bobby Madley.Madley booked Willian for diving and showed Pedro a red card for an ugly foul on Mohamed Elneny shortly before Kolasinac’s equalizer.Conte also defended his decision to allow Thibaut Courtois to take a penalty, though the Belgian goalkeeper hoisted his effort over the bar.

New signing Alvaro Morata also miscued in the shootout, dragging his spot-kick wide during an inauspicious cameo appearance and allowing Olivier Giroud to net the winning penalty.

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Arsene Wenger


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