Swansea boss Paul Clement hoping scouting mission at Arsenal pays off
Swansea boss Paul Clement hopes his Champions League scouting mission at Arsenal will pay off in a fashion he could never have imagined.
Clement was at the Emirates Stadium on Boxing Day as Arsenal beat West Brom 1-0 in the Premier League.
The then-Bayern Munich number two formed part of a Bavarian spying trip ahead of next month's Champions League last-16 clash with Arsenal, before being given the job of trying to keep Swansea in the Premier League after the sacking of Bob Bradley.
"I saw them play West Brom so I have got my notes," said Clement, Carlo Ancelotti's former assistant, ahead of Arsenal's visit to the Liberty Stadium on Saturday.
"It's just I'll be using them for Swansea instead of Bayern now.
"The notes are the same, just looking at what they do and hopefully take advantage .I'll send Carlo a photocopy!"
Clement's first game as a Premier League boss comes against the division's most experienced manager.
Arsene Wenger - who is now into his 21st year in north London - will be in charge of Arsenal for the 1,151st time at Swansea.
The pair have crossed swords before when Clement worked as an assistant to first Guus Hiddink, and then Ancelotti, during his time at Chelsea.
But Clement admits it is special coming up against Wenger as he starts out on trying to steer relegation-threatened Swansea to safety.
"It's exciting to be going up against a coach of that calibre and experience, it's brilliant," Clement said.
"He's been at Arsenal more than 20 years and I didn't know anything about football then.
"I was a secondary school teacher working part-time in Chelsea's centre of excellence. But Chelsea against Arsenal were always good games, always competitive."
Swansea are one point from safety after winning their last league game, 2-1 at Crystal Palace on January 3.
Clement came down from the stands into the technical area at Selhurst Park on a night when Alan Curtis was in caretaker command. And he has revealed he has not over-complicated matters as he has got to know his players on the training ground.
"I am their third coach of the season and they have come off some really tough results, so confidence is low and we need to get that back up," Clement said.
"The best way to do that is to be well prepared. I will go into a game satisfied if I know I have done everything I can to prepare the team.
"That is my objective, to get to 3pm on Saturday knowing I have done everything I can."
Arsenal were boosted on Thursday by the news that French international trio Laurent Koscielny, Olivier Giroud and Francis Coquelin had signed new contracts.
And Wenger hopes his compatriots putting pen to paper could inspire others within his squad including Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez - who both have 18 months left on their current deals - to do the same.
"Generally I would say yes," he said when asked if others may be encouraged to follow suit.
"Because the squad has a great spirit and I believe as well that the players will want to stay together."
One player whose long-term Arsenal future is likely to be placed in further doubt is Carl Jenkinson, with Wenger admitting the full-back could leave on loan in the coming days.
Jenkinson has barely featured this season after suffering a serious knee injury and is expected to join Crystal Palace until the end of the campaign.
He has previously played for Eagles boss Sam Allardyce during a loan spell at West Ham and Wenger said he is anticipating a deal for the 24-year-old.
"It is a possibility that he will move in the next two or three days. It's a possibility," he said.
When asked if Palace was Jenkinson's likely destination, Wenger added: "You sound well-informed."
The club announced the signing of young defender Cohen Bramall earlier in the week but are unlikely to spend big in the January window.
Wenger channelled United States President-elect Donald Trump when asked if a deal for Torino forward Andrea Belotti was on the table.
"That's what you call today 'fake news'," he said, referencing Trump's response to a dossier allegedly held by the Russians which contains comprising material about him.
Ozil has missed the last three games through illness but returns to the squad for Saturday's trip to Swansea.
Sanchez, Koscielny and goalkeeper Petr Cech will also be recalled having been rested for the FA Cup third-round victory over Preston last weekend.