Ahead of Monday night’s match between Liverpool and Arsenal, long-serving French Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has taken to the media to discuss some of our players – past and present.
Arsenal were linked with Raheem Sterling this summer before he eventually joined Manchester City for £49m, but despite the player’s deplorable actions in the lead up to the sale, which saw him even booed by Everton fans yesterday, Wenger thinks the player didn’t do much wrong.
And even if he did think Sterling did something wrong, he slyly remarked that because we didn’t sell them Luis Suarez in 2013, he had no sympathy.
“I personally rate Raheem Sterling. We will see that in the longer term,” Wenger began, reported in the Echo.
“I personally don’t think that Sterling was making a lot of drama. It’s just during the transfer window that that happened.
“They refused to sell us Suárez so I cannot feel too much sympathy for them.”
Arsenal famously bid £40m plus £1 for our formerly prolific Uruguayan (via the Guardian), believing it would activate a release clause, but we ignored the bid – and Suarez won the Premier League Player of the Year award – firing us to within inches of the title.
“Let’s remember two years ago with Suarez, Sturridge and Sterling they scored over a hundred goals,” Wenger continued. “To score more than 100 goals in the Premier League, you need special quality to do that.
“Sterling was part of that. I personally rate Raheem Sterling. We will see that in the longer term. He’s a quality player.”
Interestingly, Wenger also had words to say on our marquee arrivals this summer: Roberto Firmino and Christian Benteke.
While he was full of praise for Firmino, he seemingly isn’t especially worried about Benteke tonight.
“They bought Firmino. We will see what he will produce. He is a similar player [to Suarez, Sterling].”
“We played a cup final against Benteke and we managed to deal with it. Then again, every game is a new challenge and we have to show that we can do it.
“We have dealt with him in a positive way before.”
Benteke is a certainty to lead the line for us tonight having bagged his first Liverpool goal last weekend versus Bournemouth, although there’s no guarantee Firmino will also begin from the offset.
If they do, we hope Benteke can make Wenger eat his words – and Firmino can prove him right.