Wenger optimistic for next season

Santi Cazorla has tipped Manuel Pellegrini to do ‘spectacular

things’ at Manchester City.

The Arsenal star has spent much of his career under Pellegrini’s

tutelage, firstly at Villarreal and then at Malaga.

And Cazorla is backing his former boss to do good things at

Manchester City if, as expected, he is confirmed as Roberto

Mancini’s successor.

“What can I say about Manuel Pellegrini? He has been very

important for my career,” he told The People.

“As a manager, he has shown he is at the top level in Madrid,

Malaga and Villarreal. He made his mark.

“With Manchester City, if he goes there, he’ll do spectacular

things and they will get better as a team.

“He’ll adapt to the Premier League. He’ll change City’s style

but the players he has got, they’ll adapt very well. I hope the

best for him.

“If he goes to City, he deserves that and I’ll be happy for him.

He’s ready as he likes pressure. He’s ready for any team.

“In Madrid, he didn’t have the luck. It doesn’t mean he’s not

able to be at any club in the world.”

Turning his attention to Arsenal, Cazorla has called for them to

be more consistent as they look to try and seal a top-four place on

the final day of the season at Newcastle.

“The aim is to win trophies. Unfortunately, we have gone eight

years without one, which is a long time for such a huge club that’s

always up there fighting with the other big clubs,” he said.

“This year we haven’t been able to, for various reasons.

“I hope next year will be another story. We want to be fighting

for the Premier League and all the tournaments we enter.

“We’re a great team and I’m sure we will.

“What I’ve taken from this year is that we weren’t very

consistent for half of the season, which cost us.

“Now we’re a lot more consistent and that’s the form we were

lacking before.”

Wenger feels his squad will finally be able to get the right

mental preparation to hit the ground running at the start of the

next season following a summer without speculation over the future

of key players.

The Gunners head to Newcastle for Sunday’s final Barclays

Premier League game knowing victory would secure at least fourth

place, or even third should Chelsea slip up at home to Everton –

which in itself could spark an unprecedented play-off for automatic

entry to the Champions League.

That would be a remarkable achievement given the unsettling

departure of captain Robin van Persie to title rivals Manchester

United, which was finally completed just a few days before the new

campaign kicked off.

Having also endured similar problematic build-ups when Cesc

Fabregas and then Samir Nasri left in August 2011, Wenger is

hopeful of a more focused approach when the club heads off for a

tour of Asia and then back for the Emirates Cup.

“It is a very important thing because, last year and the year

before, the summers were of course very difficult, because of the

Fabregas case, the Nasri case and last year the van Persie case,”

said Wenger.

“We started pre-season, on camps, with every time a player being

half in or half out and that is not the best way mentally to

prepare the season.”

Wenger has already started his planning for 2013-14, with France

Under-21 forward Yaya Sanogo set to sign from Auxerre on a free

transfer.

While specific targets could well be switched depending on

Champions League qualification – with Fiorentina’s Stevan Jovetic,

Real Madrid frontman Gonzalo Higuain and England forward Wayne

Rooney all said to be on the radar – Wenger believes Arsenal will

“have a good chance” of mounting a long-overdue sustained title

challenge.

“Let’s first finish well on Sunday and then we will give

ourselves a good potential chance to win the championship next year

by doing well in the transfer market this summer,” he said.

Following the decision of Sir Alex Ferguson to retire, Wenger,

who took charge at Highbury in 1996, will next season become the

longest serving manager in the English top flight.

While Manchester United have moved swiftly to name David Moyes

as Ferguson’s successor, just who else will be going head to head

with the 63-year-old Frenchman at title rivals Chelsea and

Manchester City come August remains to be seen.

Wenger thinks while the changes could prove “an opportunity”,

the Gunners boss insists a positive end at Newcastle is

imperative.

“When you finish the season strong – like we do – you prepare

already next season, because you go with more certainty,” said

Wenger, whose side have not been beaten since losing at Tottenham

on March 3.

“Last year we had a new team and we have built up some belief

and, of course, with belief we want to use it to win the game on

Sunday.

“The game on Sunday is also for next season, to know when you

have to turn up, you turn up, that makes your future stronger as

well: the strength and belief that you can start strong again, that

you are on a run and you don’t interrupt that because of the summer

break.

“You just know that there are some qualities in this squad that

will come out next year.”

With Mikel Arteta doubtful because of a calf injury picked up in

the midweek 4-1 win over Wigan, which relegated the FA Cup winners,

England midfielder Jack Wilshere could be asked to play through the

pain barrier ahead of an operation to remove a pin from his

troublesome ankle injury.

While the 21-year-old will miss the friendlies against the

Republic of Ireland and Brazil as a result, Wenger moved to allay

fears of any long-term ramifications.

“It will keep him out for two to three weeks, maximum. Then he

will come back and have preparation for next season,” said

Wenger.

“It will be a very big season for him because, first of all, it

will be a very important season for Arsenal, but as well we also

have a World Cup you want to bring back from Brazil.”

Wenger added: “No European team has ever won a World Cup in

South America, so you can be the first one.”