Football

Wright: Wenger can end 11-year title drought next season

Former Arsenal striker tells 
GARY LIM Frenchman can end title drought next season

Arsenal haven't won the Premier League title for 11 years. Do you think manager Arsene Wenger still has what it takes to deliver the league crown?

IAN WRIGHT: Yes. And I hope they can.

Wenger has been fantastic for Arsenal. He changed the face of the club.

Now that he has the money and resources to buy the kind of players to challenge Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United, they will be stronger.

You can never guarantee how they will play, but the Gunners will be stronger next season.

Depending on the players that they are going to get, Man United are going to be very strong challengers next season.

Arsenal need to strengthen very well and spend money on good players. Because all that's left now is a very good goalkeeper, a centre half and another striker to go alongside what they have already got.

If they start next season with a bit more determination and a champion's mentality, not draw too many games at the start and win them instead, then Arsenal have a good chance.

This season, the challenge to Chelsea hasn't been great and they deserve to win the title.

There are rumours that Wenger may be moved upstairs into an executive position. Can you see him sticking around in the dugout for a while more?

He's got a contract for another two years. I am not thinking about him moving anywhere because that's three years down the road.

These are very exciting times. They are having a better season than they had last season. If they win the FA Cup and finish second in the league, that would be a successful season.

Lose the FA Cup, and finish second, there are still some positives to take.

Judging by how strongly they are finishing this term, do you think they can win the league title next season?

You need to see the summer signings but Arsenal are capable of being up there.

Chelsea are still the favourites. You don't know who Man United are going to sign but, if they sign certain players, then they have got the experience to be favourites as well.

The arrivals of Mesut Oezil and Alexis Sanchez have been the kind of signings to show people that they mean business.

The loss to Swansea yesterday morning (Singapore time) was disappointing, but that happens.

But the problem for Arsenal this season was that they weren't good enough at the start.

There were times during the campaign, when the pressure was on, they didn't perform very well.

They need players who can do better in those sort of situations because that's what it's going to take.

That's why it's so important to start well because it's tough from the first day to the last.

To win the league, you need players who can react and play well under pressure. That's why you need to buy players of a certain calibre.

You were part of an Arsenal team that won the Premiership, FA Cup, League Cup and Cup Winners' Cup. What is it that your team had that this current side lack?

Mentality and experience.

That's what it comes down to and that's what you're hoping Wenger is trying to do something about now.

Last year, Arsenal won their first piece of silverware - the FA Cup - in nine years.

What I talk about mentality, I mean winning big games. It's about strength and character.

When they lost 6-0 to Chelsea last season, that was one of their most embarrassing defeats under Wenger. The mentality was weak.

I think they have learnt from that.

Because this season, they went up to Man City and beat them when nobody expected them to.

They played well to beat Man United in the FA Cup, too.

So, this is all part of building mentality, personality and strength of character.

These are the things which can hopefully help them next season, knowing that they can go to Man City, Man United and Liverpool and win.

You mentioned that Arsenal need to sign a top striker. Who will be your ideal choice?

Arsenal need a striker of top, top quality.

I'm not going to start throwing names around or else people will be saying that Ian is saying, "Sign this player, and sign that player".

We are talking about a club who in 10 years have won only an FA Cup and they are in the final again.

Everyone knows that at Arsenal, this wasn't the objective.

They want to win more leagues titles and win the Champions League, so you want to make sure that you are signing players who can help you achieve those goals.

Whoever Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Man City and Man United are going for, I will be happy to see Arsenal challenging for their signatures as well.

That's the kind of calibre that will win you the Champions League and Premiership.

Olivier Giroud has done very well the last three seasons. He is coming on to 20 goals this term, with 14 in the league. That's not a bad return.

He has improved every year since he has been there. Arsenal just need to buy the players to help him, and the people around him, score more goals.

* Ian Wright was one of the best strikers to grace an Arsenal shirt. From 1991 to 1998, he scored 185 goals in 288 appearances as he went on to win the Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup and Cup Winners' Cup with the Gunners. He was Arsenal's all-time record goalscorer until Thierry Henry emerged to eclipse his mark. Wright is in town to promote the Barclays Asia Trophy Singapore 2015, which will see Arsenal, Everton, Stoke City and a Singapore selection side battle for honours in July.

eplIan Wright