Pennant makes Wenger claim
Winger feels English players overlooked by Gunners boss
By Rob Parrish. Last Updated: October 27, 2007 12:46pm
Pennant: Wenger claim
Jermaine Pennant believes part of the reason he failed to make the grade under Arsene Wenger at Arsenal is because he is English.
Pennant became the most expensive teenager in the country when the Gunners invested £2million in his fledgling talents to sign the 16-year-old from Notts County in January 1999.
But he was unable to force his way into Wenger's plans and, after rebuilding his career with Birmingham, attracted the interest of Rafael Benitez who brought him to Anfield in a £6.7million deal in summer 2006.
The winger, who will not be involved when the Reds take on his former club on Sunday as he recovers from surgery on a stress fracture to his right tibia, still feels the odds are stacked against home-grown players under Wenger.
He told The Independent: "There has got to be something. If you look now there are no English players in the squad, apart from Theo (Walcott) and he's not a regular, even though he's been there for a while now.
"I always felt we got overlooked. The facts speak for themselves. There are no English players in that team so he must have something, not necessarily against them, but that they don't fit into his philosophy.
"He likes the foreign players more. Maybe he believes their attributes are better. And that's his choice."
Despite failing to make his mark in North London, Pennant has few regrets over his switch to Highbury and admits the club did everything they could to help him settle.
He added: "You can't say no to a club like Arsenal. I just thought 'It's got to be the right move'.
"And, looking back, it wasn't a bad one, although, with hindsight, maybe I should have stayed at Notts County for another year, played for the first team, maybe it would have helped me at Arsenal more.
"They tried to make things as easy as possible for me. But I was there for almost seven years and I made five first-team starts and a handful of appearances coming on as a sub. And that did take its toll."