Arsene Wenger admitted he was surprised that Tottenham sacked Andre Villas-Boas but insisted he always knew it would take time for their new players to gel into a team. Spurs made seven new signings and lost star player Gareth Bale in a transitional summer yet sacked Villas-Boas on Monday with the club seventh in the Premier League.

They are now looking for their tenth permanent manager since Wenger took charge of Arsenal in 1996 and the Frenchman said: “If you look purely at the mathematical problem, yes I was surprised, because he has the highest percentage rate of wins historically at the club.

“Is it an internal problem with relationship with his chairman or with the board? I don’t know. Is it an emotional reaction to a big defeat at home? I hope not because that would not be a good sign. I don’t know but I was surprised, yes.

“You need time, yes. Look, when I said to you at the beginning of the season that when you sign more than three players you take a technical risk, you were all laughing at me but it is a reality.

“There is for sure a difference of philosophy [between Arsenal and Tottenham]. Both can work. I am not a specialist of Tottenham at all. I am just focused on doing things right for my club.”

If Malky Mackay loses his job at Cardiff – which seems imminent – Wenger’s 17 years in charge of the Gunners will be a longer spell at his club than the other 19 put together and he said: “There is no real secret other than maybe I was given more time than many other managers. On my side I just try to be completely dedicated to my job.

“I think every other manager would do that as well and I believe honestly that apart from my case, technical stability is important for football and for the quality of the managers. To be given time is important first of all when you’re a young manager you need to learn the job.

“Nobody goes in a job at 33,34 years of age and knows the job. If he’s not given the time somebody else comes in and he has the same problem. There are some countries where the instability of managers is chronic.

“After what happens you have no quality anymore because people with quality do not go into jobs where they are sacked every three weeks for ridiculous reasons so it’s very important for the quality of the game that there is a certain stability.”

Arsenal face Chelsea at Emirates Stadium on Monday night and will be without Laurent Koscielny due to a knee problem while Jack Wilshere will serve the first of a two-match ban after his appeal over making an offensive hand gesture in last weekend’s defeat to Manchester City was rejected by the Football Association.

“We thought the ban was one game and that’s why we appealed,” said Wenger. “It is two, we have to accept it and to swallow it. He was wrong in his reaction, we just thought it was a one-game ban and that’s why we appealed but we are now in a situation where we have to accept it and wait until he comes back and focus on our next games without him.”

Arsenal remain top of the League but face questions over their durability in the wake of a draw to Everton and two defeats to Napoli and City.

But Wenger said: “On the offensive front we have shown that we have huge potential. I believe that we should come out of that City game even stronger in our belief, even stronger in our resolute attitude, because we have shown until now that we can be very strong defensively, and as well on the day we have shown that we can be dangerous against anybody.

“We can rectify the defensive problem, but that’s what we want to show against Chelsea.”


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