West Brom V Arsenal at The Hawthorns : Match Preview

18 March 2017 01:34
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Tony Pulis believes Arsene Wenger still has plenty left in the tank

West Brom head coach Tony Pulis believes Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is years away from quitting management.

Albion host the Gunners in the Premier League on Saturday with Wenger under growing pressure to leave the Emirates Stadium at the end of the season.

His contract expires in the summer and sections of fans have called for him not to sign a fresh one as frustration grows at Arsenal's failure to consistently challenge for major honours.

They have not won the title since 2004 and went out of the Champions League in the last 16 for the seventh straight campaign after their 10-2 aggregate defeat to Bayern Munich this month.

But Pulis does not expect Wenger will want to leave any time soon.

"I get the feeling that Arsene most probably wants to be carried out in a box still managing a football club because that's the way he is," he told the BBC.

Pulis added in his main press conference: "He's football nuts. He will go down in history as the greatest manager Arsenal have had and I think you're probably talking about a manager who wants to manage for another five or six years by the sounds of it.

"If you go back from when he started right through to a period of time where now people are complaining because they haven't won the championship for a period of time and they just get to a certain stage in Europe and this, that and the other.

"I really do think people at Arsenal trust him and they've given him total trust. I think he's a great manager and he's been fantastic."

Pulis and Wenger have had constant run-ins with Pulis saying the Frenchman moans "like a drain" while Wenger has criticised the Welshman's style. They have begun to patch things up but the Baggies boss has no regrets over their previous verbal sparring.

He said: "No. It's just two competitive people getting on with their lives and having a bit of a scrap here and there. It makes no difference."

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka has become an easy target for referees as Wenger believes his tough-tackling reputation now precedes him.

The 24-year-old Switzerland international arrived at the Emirates Stadium last summer as Wenger shelled out in excess of B#30million to prise Xhaka away from Borussia Monchengladbach.

Despite such a fee, Xhaka found himself in and out of the Arsenal side at the beginning of the season and had only started four games before October.

The former Basle youngster came with a reputation for collecting red cards and was given his marching orders by referee Jon Moss in the 3-2 win over Swansea later that month.

Xhaka established himself in Wenger's side over the Christmas period before another sending-off against Burnley on January 22 saw him become the player in Europe's top five leagues with the most red cards since the start of last season - and he has racked up nine in three years.

Although there have been no further dismissals since, Wenger admitted he is concerned about Xhaka being a marked man after seeing him cautioned in each of his last five games.

"I believe that he is now in a position where on the first foul he gets a yellow card. For example on Saturday (against Lincoln) - first foul, soft yellow card," the Arsenal boss said.

"So he is a victim a little bit of his reputation. You see tackles of some players who are much worse than what he did who don't even get a yellow card and he got a straight red and because he had a history of that in Germany I think he is a bit of a victim of that.

"Overall he is quite in a positive way, he masters himself much better. He was maybe a little bit before looking too much to impress but overall he has to stay on this ground because it is tackling that can get him sent off. When he defends well, staying on his feet he is a fair player."

Wenger has previously raised questions over Xhaka's technique and conceded he is still concerned by how the midfielder goes into a challenge.

Asked if he still has a problem, Wenger replied: "Yes, I agree. The way he tackles is not to hurt people, it is more the consequence of the fact that he doesn't master well the technique of tackling.

"He has improved a lot since he has arrived I think but he still has to work, yes, on his one against one - you can always improve.

Source: PAR