London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger is out to banish the memory of a surprise defeat by Swansea which shattered Arsenal’s hopes of winning the Premier League title last season.
A devastating 2-1 loss at the Emirates Stadium in March effectively ended Arsenal’s hopes of catching eventual champions Leicester.
Now, as he prepares Arsenal for a Swansea side managed for the first time by American Bob Bradley, Gunners boss Wenger is keen for his side to prove just how far they have come since that painful evening, which ended with some fans calling for his resignation.
“Last year we had a very negative experience with Swansea who killed our opportunity to win the Premier League,” said Wenger, whose side are on a run of just one league defeat in 17 matches since then.
“We have a good opportunity to show that we have learned from that and that we are capable of dealing with these kinds of opponents.
“That’s what is at stake for us. We have to refocus because the players have been away and we’ve basically had nobody here.
“We have to show that we can deal with the kinds of fixtures where we are the favourites. We were not always capable of doing that last season and we want to show that we have moved forward.
“We have a home game on Saturday against Swansea and that’s a good opportunity to show that we have moved forward.
“We were a little bit in a difficult period at that time and we were a bit unlucky as well on the day, I must say. But it could be a similar game.”
Wenger will remain without Olivier Giroud (toe) and Aaron Ramsey (hamstring), but Francis Coquelin and Mesut Ozil have both been declared fit.
Wenger is the most experienced manager in English football having spent 20 years at Arsenal, but he insists his counterpart at Swansea is not a novice.
– Fantastic opportunity –
“Bob Bradley has a lot of experience,” said the Frenchman. “He’s not a beginner, he has travelled a lot and has accumulated experience in the United States.
“He has been in Egypt, France recently and is now in England which is certainly a fantastic opportunity for him.
“It’s also good for the Premier League because the Premier League is taking off in the States.
“To have an American here will create even more interest for the Premier League in the States. He is equipped to deal with what is asked of him.
“Winning is the best way of dealing with scepticism, just (do it) after playing us! You do not want to create scepticism because of where you’re from.
“What is important is that you’re qualified for the job you do, no matter where you’re from.”
Bradley, who replaced the sacked Francesco Guidolin, has given an early indication of how he intends to make his mark at the Welsh club, who have collected just four points from their opening seven games and sit one place outside the relegation zone.
“At the beginning you don’t start with an iron fist, but there’s been some moments I get a bit louder and harder, but they’ll live with that,” he said.
“I figure out in the moment, how to make points. “When you’ve done this for a while, you tell your messages accordingly, you figure out the best way to connect with the guy. You try different things.”
Bradley has promised a fresh start for those players who found themselves sidelined under Guidolin, including Neil Taylor, Jefferson Montero and Ki Sung-Yeung.
However, Montero and striker Fernando Llorente are not yet back to full fitness.
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