Premier League

Wenger: I'm going nowhere

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Fri, 22 Feb 2013 11:27:00

Inter Milan boss Andrea Stramaccioni is relishing the chance to pit his wits against Tottenham in the last 16 of the Europa League.

A brace from Fredy Guarin and a late goal from Marco Benassi saw Inter win 3-0 at Cluj to complete a 5-0 aggregate win, while Spurs drew 1-1 at Lyon to advance 3-2 on aggregate.

Inter and Spurs shared two memorable games in the Champions League group stages of the 2010-11 season and Stramaccioni echoed his counterpart Andre Villas-Boas' enthusiastic post-match comments ahead of next month's two-legged encounter.

He told inter.it: "They're a top side, at Champions League level, but we're Inter and we'll show what we're about."

Eleven goals were scored in the last two games between the sides, with Gareth Bale scoring a memorable hat-trick in a 4-3 Inter win at the San Siro before Spurs responded with a 3-1 victory at White Hart Lane.

Stramaccioni's immediate thoughts turn to the Milan derby on Sunday night and the 37-year-old feels Thursday's creditable victory in Cluj provided a timely confidence boost during a poor run of form in Serie A.

He added: "Aside from the knocks, my team gave an excellent response by winning again on the road - something we'd not done in a while - and winning well.

"Was there a positive impact? Let's say we were angry and smarting after the (4-1) defeat against Fiorentina. We knew that wasn't the real us in Florence.

"On a negative note, we lost (defender Andrea) Ranocchia to injury. I still haven't got any news on how he is, but this is something we could have done without, so we're quite unfortunate."

With City's hopes of retaining their Premier League title fading, Mancini's position has come under considerable scrutiny.

Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini is the latest name to be linked with his post at the Etihad Stadium.

Mancini dismissed suggestions he could be sacked when he met media prior to last week's FA Cup win over Leeds and had to revisit the subject after the game.

When former Real Madrid boss Pellegrini was then mentioned in the opening question at his latest press conference, Mancini indicated he was clearly wearying of the discussion.

After a shrug, but then a smile, Mancini said: "f****** hell!"

After a brief pause and a laugh, he gave a more thorough response.

The Italian said: "I cannot continue to answer about this every week.

"We have another two months. In two months you will know if this can happen but I can't continue with this.

"This is normal for you, it's your job, don't worry, but I can't continue to answer each week about one (manager) or another or another.

"But also because I don't understand this - why would Manchester City change their manager? For what reasons?"

City trail Premier League leaders Manchester United by 12 points, a gap that could have increased before they face third-placed Chelsea on Sunday.

But after leading City to FA Cup success in 2011 and following up with last year's dramatic title victory - the club's first league win in 44 years - Mancini retains the support of the fans.

His name was chanted a number of times during the win over Leeds last Sunday, which took City through to the last eight of the cup.

Mancini said: "After the FA Cup (game), I said that in the last 18 months since Manchester United won the Premier League, there were seven trophies (to play for) and Manchester City won three of those seven trophies.

"For this reason, I don't understand (the speculation).

"I'm not the CEO or chairman, if you want to ask these questions ask them.

"I have four more years on my contract, I think I'm doing well, I am happy here."

Mancini said he was still unsure whether captain Vincent Kompany, who has missed the last four games with a calf injury, would be fit to return against Chelsea.

Midfielder Gareth Barry, who has been troubled by an ankle problem, will also be assessed.

The Gunners boss has found his position under intense scrutiny, after a midweek 3-1 defeat in the Champions League by Bayern Munich followed on from their shock FA Cup exit at home to Blackburn and Capital One Cup loss to Bradford.

The 63-year-old - whose side are set for an eighth season without silverware - reacted angrily earlier this week to "lies" the club had already opened talks over a new deal, with his current contract set to expire in 2014.

However, despite the negativity surrounding his squad, Wenger says he is not about to walk away from the challenges ahead - insisting his desire for the job burns as bright as ever.

Asked directly if he had considered his position this week, Wenger replied: "Never. Not one second.

"I don't think that (motivation) spark has anything to do with the length of your life. It is just that's how you are and you're motivated by how much you want to win and how much you are a winner.

"If I go out now and play one against one with you, you will see I will beat you and at least if I don't manage to beat you, I will want to beat you. That will not change as long as I can move."

Wenger believes there needs to be a sense of "perspective" around achievements at the Emirates Stadium, with Arsenal having continued to qualify for the Champions League despite testing financial circumstances.

"We live in a world of emotion, of excess, and it is down to people who have responsibilities to put that into perspective and keep solid and keep guiding the club in the right way," said Wenger, whose side will look to maintain their improving Premier League form at home to struggling Aston Villa on Saturday.

"My responsibility is to keep the guidelines and guide the team and the club in what I feel is the right way.

"What is important for me is to focus on the next game and try to give my best, like all the players."

Arsenal's regular board meeting on Thursday was attended by majority shareholder Stan Kroenke, who also watched Tuesday's Bayern game.

Wenger, though, insisted it was very much a case of business as usual.

He said: "The meeting speaks about many things. Commercial, ticket prices, long term plans. I make my report as well on the technical side, so it was the usual thing.

"Of course we had no euphoria because we have gone through a disappointment on Tuesday night but apart from that we are responsible people who know what it is to fight."

Arsenal are set to announce their latest interim financial results next week, which are expected to show another healthy cash reserve to be ploughed back into the squad in the summer - although at a reduced level should they fail to secure Champions League football again next season.

Wenger, though, remains confident Arsenal can come through this testing spell.

He said: "What we need is to be united and strong, and not to be destabilised by people who have strong opinions after one game.

"I believe what is important is that the club always goes with the guidelines we have and do not change direction every time we lose a big game, that would lead to a disaster.

"A bad period for a club is also a good opportunity to show how united and strong you are. We have a good history of that at Arsenal.

"I have a contract until the end of 2014 and at the moment we are on a short-term plan.

"This is for two reasons, because I am here for a long time and as well I have to consider what I want to do. That will be decided in 2014, not before."

Full-back Bacary Sagna is out of Saturday's game with a knee problem but Wenger refuted reports the France international wants to leave the club.

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