Bould backs Wenger ahead of Stoke clash

Arsenal's assistant manager has praised the Frenchman ahead of a crucial match at The Emirates.

Bould backs Wenger ahead of Stoke clash
Bould spoke about Wenger in the Frenchman's absence (Photo via Getty Images / Matthew Lewis).

Arsenal's assistant manager Steve Bould has heaped praise on Arsene Wenger ahead of a crunch game against Stoke to maintain a European place.

Burnley's win against West Brom saw them move just two points behind the Gunners who now sit just two points ahead of Sean Dyche's men with eight games remaining.

Stoke, on the other hand, need the points just as much as they look to escape relegation and could move level on points with 17th-placed Crystal Palace with a win.

“I admire him immensely. He takes unbelievable stick off an awful lot of people and he’s just one of the great managers," said Bould. "It’s a pleasure for me to sit next to him. I understand that he’s doing a great job, as far as I’m concerned, and has done a great job for an awfully long time.”

Bould was taking the press conference in the absence of Wenger through illness and claimed Wenger's desire to win is as high as ever.

He explained: "He is remarkable. Behind closed doors I've never met anybody who's as hungry and determined to win football games."

 

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Stoke looking to end Arsenal hoodoo

The Emirates has been a poisoned chalice for the visitors who have never picked up a point in their nine visits, conceding 22 goals in the process and scoring just four times.

In fact Stoke are without an away win at Arsenal since 1981, but manager Paul Lambert believes Sunday can be the day the run ends despite being without leading goalscorer Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting.

"It's a really tough place to go. I've been fortunate I've won there," said Lambert. "I know what it's like to win there, I know what it's like to lose there, I know what it's like to draw there.

"This is new, I'm only new to the football club so what happened in the past is not an interest to me really.

"We'll make it a really hard game, we'll go and try and win, like I've always done, and it won't change. We have to find a way to hurt them and that's what we'll work on when we get the rest of the lads back from their national teams."

Lacazette at number 10?

Bould also hailed Jack Wilshere's mental toughness whilst declaring the midfielder has been passed fit to return from injury and also hinted at a positional change for Alexandre Lacazette, who has scored just nine goals in 33 appearances since his big-money move last summer.

The Frenchman could feature in the squad for the first time in over a month due to a knee injury and Bould has taken the bold step to compare him to Arsenal legend Dennis Bergkamp.

Bould explained:  “He’s actually a very, very, very good football player, he could play at number 10, he’s really good.

“The physical element has surprised him and caught up with him, which it does to many players who come from abroad. We’re hoping he comes back sharp.

"I think he’s found it physically tougher. It might be a blessing in disguise having that month off and coming back fighting.

“Dennis Bergkamp went through (struggles). Lots of the great players go through these times. It’s not a worry.”