Monday, May 25, 2009

Wenger Wants Star to Stay

After the match Arsene Wenger said it is crucial to make sure the likes of leading scorer Robin van Persie remain at Arsenal as he looks to lift the Gunners back into contention for the Premier League title.

Wenger said: "We want to extend the contract of Robin. It is the priority to extend the contract of [Nicklas] Bendtner as well. The basic problem is to get round the table.

"We did that already a few times but we always got delayed afterwards. Robin wants to stay, he wants basically to stay. But he still has two years to go."

Wenger accepts some new personnel will have to be added but refused to make any snap judgments.

"After a dodgy start, in the last 23 games we lost just once, so the team is moving forwards," he said.

"The question we have to analyse now is are we strong enough like that to win the championship next year? If not, what do we need to add to the squad? That is the basic question we need to answer.

"There is some great quality here, that is for sure, the squad is very young, so it is about what is needed to be added next year to challenge for the championship."

Wenger added: "It is important not to go into conclusions today. I have to analyse well and then make decisions after."

Striker Emmanuel Adebayor, who did not play today because of a groin injury, has been linked with a summer move - Manchester City emerging as potential suitors.

However, Wenger stressed: "I don't know if Manchester City will make a huge bid in the summer.

"He is a great striker who scores important goals and has proven that in the seasons he has been here."

An own goal from James Beattie set Arsenal on their way this afternoon, which was swiftly followed up by a penalty from van Persie and Abou Diaby's bullet header to put the home side 3-0 up inside 18 minutes.

Stoke, already safe from any last-day relegation drama, pulled a goal back from the spot through Ricardo Fuller, only for Rory Delap to then gift van Persie his second four minutes before half-time.

Arsenal, secure in fourth, had little other than somewhat wounded pride left to play for after going out of both the FA Cup and Champions League at the semi-final stage.

"It was good to finish well and have the crowd happy, because the team have played during the whole season in a difficult position," Wenger said.

"After the Manchester United and Chelsea games here, it was important for us not to play sloppy and give a message out that we can come back next year and be strong."

Wenger was given a warm reception by the home fans, who chanted his name throughout and applauded the team on a post-match lap of appreciation.

"It makes me feel appreciated and even more regretful that we could not give them what they wanted this season," said the Arsenal manager, who had earlier this week allayed fears he was set to quit for Real Madrid.

"I am very respectful for the faith they have in me and it makes you even more determined to pay them back."

Although Stoke were outclassed during the first half, the hard work had already been done in only three defeats from the last 12 games

"Some of the goals we conceded were laughable," said Stoke boss Tony Pulis. "But the lesson from it is that, if we are not 110% at it, focused and with our mind on the job, then we are not good enough to get results. In the second half, we were much better."

Pulis paid tribute to everyone at the club, who finished in 12th place.

"To achieve what we have done is pretty remarkable," he said. "Everyone has to take a lot of credit, from staff and supporters through to the chairman, who has given us the chance to bring people in at the right time.

"Everybody told me it was so difficult to stay in the Premier League, now I have got 'second-season syndrome' to worry about.

"We will have to make changes for us to push on, and one or two will have to move on."

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