Dirty Tackle - World Soccer

Wenger says half the Arsenal team wanted to leave over the summer

Robin van Persie followed up his match-winning brace last weekend by clarifying that having his old house up for sale and being reluctant to sign a new contract with Arsenal didn't mean he is anything less than committed to the club. A few short weeks ago, life wasn't as rosy for Arsene Wenger, in part because Man City gobbled up a couple more of his players.

From the Guardian:

"No, it's not that [players have to leave to win titles]," said Wenger on the French radio station RTL. "The problem isn't that. Frankly, if you compare what Manchester City have won in the past and what Arsenal have won, then you don't go to Manchester City to win titles. Players go to Manchester City because they pay much better than Arsenal.

In the more distant past, yes, Arsenal have won more than City. But over the last six years, it's a bit tighter, with City lifting one trophy to Arsenal's, well, less than one. And once a number of good players went to City for those much higher wages, didn't the players who joined them after that do so because they thought that club had a better chance of winning titles (in addition to the higher wagers, of course)? Maybe, maybe not.

Anyway, Arsene continues his tale of redemption:

"It was a very difficult summer because half the dressing room wanted to leave," said Wenger. "You're preparing for a season where you don't know who's going to come in, the players who are staying are asking themselves what's going on at the club, you've got a pre-season tour of Asia. It was extraordinarily difficult. What saved us is that we're a club that are extremely solid and united. Other clubs would surely have gone to pieces in those circumstances."

Some rubberneckers might describe losing your two best players and losing four of your first seven matches by a combined score of 16-6 as going to pieces, but lets not get bogged down in semantics. Arsenal are coming off a big 2-1 win over Sunderland (a team with one win) and Robin van Persie promised he won't sneak away like a Cuban defector with access to an alligator raft. Lets let Arsene enjoy his five minutes without a sense of soul-crushing depression.

Photo: Reuters

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