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The FA Cup Fourth Round

Arsenal must never sack Wenger - Wright

Ian Wright would give Arsene Wenger "as long as he likes" to end Arsenal's trophy drought - but believes they can win something this season.

Last Updated: 04/10/13 at 11:13 Post Comment

Ian Wright: Tipping Arsenal to end trophy drought

Ian Wright: Tipping Arsenal to end trophy drought

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Wright was famously still playing amateur football as a 21-year-old, but the striker went on to score 117 goals in 253 starts for Crystal Palace before an even more successful spell with Arsenal, for whom he scored 185 times in 279 starts.

Wright also won 33 caps for England and had spells at West Ham, Celtic and Burnley before retiring in 2000 with 313 career club goals.

TEAMtalk's Tom McDermott caught up with the 49-year-old to get his thoughts on Arsenal.....

What do you think Arsenal can achieve this season after such a good start?

I think Arsenal will win something this year, definitely. The squad still needs some players but you could probably say that about most squads in the Premier League apart from Manchester City.

My only worry for Arsenal is if they get a couple of injuries. That could cost them.

At the moment Olivier Giroud is Arsenal's most valuable player. If he gets injured in this form, well...he's important because he holds the ball up and lets the others join in. If he gets injured it would be a massive, massive blow.

I was quite pleased that Arsenal didn't sign [another striker] in the end because that has given Giroud the confidence to kick on a bit and feel like he is wanted and make him feel like he's the man.

It's given him some time and I'm hoping he can grow into that role because he has the confidence at the moment and he's certainly got the ability. He's also got the people supplying him with chances as well.

Arsene Wenger came in for a lot of criticism after the defeat to Aston Villa on the opening day, and it's a long time since Arsenal last won a trophy. How long would you give him to end the drought?

I think you've got to give Wenger as long as he likes. He's gone all this time without winning a trophy and people aren't calling for his head.

There was a couple of disgruntled fans after the Aston Villa game but after eight years without winning anything you would have to say the fans have been quite patient. I feel they will stick with him.

He's already been offered a new deal and that's good because he is great for Arsenal football club.

The importance of away support

Arsenal are on an incredible run of form away from home, and Tom also asked Wright about the importance of the supporters on the road.

"The away fans make the result", said Wright, who was speaking at the launch of the Barclays Buses, a new free-travel initiative from the title sponsors to say thank you to groups of away fans for their support.

"They are there through thick and thin. The away fans travel and when you put in a poor performance they are the ones that have to drive back on the bus and think about it.

"The only people that don't benefit from the game and the Premier League are the fans because they are paying lots of money each week to support the players and team."

England aren't even certain to qualify for the World Cup finals at the moment; what problems do you see with the national side?

People say England aren't technically good enough and that our players don't care. I don't know what the answer is or what will happen if we qualify for the World Cup.

People also say that there is too much pressure on the team. At the end of the day, since 1990 and 1996, we can't expect too much and I feel that the expectation levels are too high.

Once we have lowered those expectations then players might start to blossom, come through and develop. That way we wouldn't have the 'England have to win this' debate. We are not in the higher echelons of world football.

Personally, I didn't feel more pressure playing for England because it was the pinnacle, the icing on the cake. I enjoyed coming on in the big games. I didn't feel pressure for England I enjoyed it.

What about Wayne Rooney; he's had an up-and-down couple of seasons but how important is he to England?

Wayne Rooney is a quality player. He gets a lot of media attention, good bad or indifferent. People like to queue up to have a pop at him but he seems to bounce back.

He had his problems last season with his old manager but he's been very professional and he's back and on top form in a team that aren't firing on all cylinders and who some think may be in for a tough season. But, he's still playing really well.

What have you made of your old club Crystal Palace so far this season?

The Premier League is a ruthless monster. When a team like Palace comes up, and it was a fantastic achievement, you have to buy the right players with the money you have.

There are more established sides in the Premier League, like Aston Villa last season, who have struggled as well.

I hope the Palace fans get behind the boys and don't expect too much because, although Palace have a great chairman, it's hard for Ian Holloway with the budget they have.

The Palace fans should just enjoy this season as much as they can. And, if they can stay up then that is a very successful season.

At the moment it looks hard for them but I would expect them to have a go. They are are up against it but you look at established Premier League sides like Sunderland and Fulham then you realise they have a fight on as well.

You can't say who is going to go down but Palace have the spirit to stay up, of course.

There are obviously similarities between yourself and Dwight Gayle, who was playing non-league football until a couple of seasons ago. What advice would you give to him?

You are there now. Have faith in your ability. They spent £6million on him. He's got a good feet and he's been elevated to Premier League level quickly after scoring goals at a lower level.

My advice to him would be to continue to practice finishing and taking those half chances because that's what it is going to take. He's not going to get many chances in the Premier League. Hitting the target in the area and from the few chances he gets is vital.

When I got into the first division I practiced left foot, right foot, hitting the target, to increase my chances of scoring. The important thing is not to panic in front of goal. Use Mesut Ozil's goal against Napoli as an example. Don't panic just guide it into the net.

Ian Wright was speaking at the launch of the Barclays Buses, a new free-travel initiative from Barclays to say 'thank you' to groups of away fans that travel the length and breadth of the country supporting their team. Join the conversation on social media using #YouAreFootball

You can find Tom and Ian on Twitter.

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