LONDON: Arsene Wenger insists the growing frustration about his failure to end Arsenal’s seven-year trophy drought will not distract him from finding a way to get the club back on track.
Wenger, whose side host Aston Villa in the FA Cup today, was subjected to a rare show of dissent during last weekend’s home defeat by Manchester United when he opted to replace lively winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with the lacklustre Andrey Arshavin.
Angry fans chanted “You don’t know what you’re doing” at Wenger, while even Arsenal captain Robin van Persie was seen shouting “No” towards the Frenchman.
To make matters worse for Wenger, the chorus of disapproval – a fitting soundtrack for Arsenal’s troubled season – only increased in volume as Arshavin’s sloppy defending allowed United to score the late winner that condemned the Gunners to their third successive defeat.
With Arsenal currently languishing in fifth place, four points behind fourth-placed Chelsea in the race for a Champions League spot, Wenger could be forgiven for fearing another hostile reaction if Arsenal lose to Villa in the FA Cup fourth round.
But Wenger is steadfast in his belief that he can turn the tide, regardless of the opinions of his own supporters.
Asked about last week’s jeers, he said: “I can live with that. I do not think about the fans’ reaction, I think about how we can win our games.
“I will live forever by the values I think are right in football. One or two lost games, or one or two bad reactions, will not change that.
“I always believe the fans’ reaction depends on us. It is the team which has to get the fans behind them, and the fans have to be proud of the team. The vibes have to come from us.”
Wenger addressed his squad at Arsenal’s training ground this week to underline his belief that they can force their way back into the top four.
But it is the FA Cup that provides Arsenal with their most realistic hope of winning silverware for the first time since the 2005 FA Cup final triumph over Manchester United.
And Wenger expects complete focus against Villa today as they look to keep alive hopes of finally ending that long trophy drought.
“If you look at Villa’s team sheet, they are a very good side, they can produce good results, especially away from home, because they are dangerous on counter-attacks,” Wenger said. — AFP
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