independent

Thursday 24 April 2014

Keep the faith in my young guns, Wenger tells Arsenal fans

MANAGER Arsene Wenger called on Arsenal fans to keep faith with his squad even if he is not able to add to it on transfer deadline day after they battled back to secure a 2-2 Barclays Premier League draw against Liverpool.

Both sides knew defeat at the Emirates Stadium could prove fatal to their hopes of closing back up on the top four, but neither were ready to settle for anything other than all three points in what developed into an open and entertaining match.

Liverpool took an early lead through Luis Suarez after terrible defending by Arsenal again proved their Achilles heel, and the visitors then looked to be in complete control when Jordan Henderson walked in a second on the hour.

However, as has so often been the case in a frustrating season, the Gunners suddenly burst into life as in-form Olivier Giroud reduced the deficit with a close-range header and Theo Walcott then rattled in an equaliser.

Although his men were unable to complete what would have been a remarkable turnaround, Wenger maintains there is still more to come from the current group.

"This squad is top, top level. We have to learn to trust these players again and to keep faith in them," said Wenger, who revealed full-back Kieran Gibbs was expected to be out for up to three weeks on the sidelines after suffering a thigh injury.

"We have signed a bunch of young, English players who have committed to the club for the next four or five years.

"I think there is a lot to come out of this team, but we have to trust and keep faith with them."

Wenger maintained any talk of a deadline move for Barcelona forward David Villa was dead in the water, while reports continue to link Arsenal with a swoop for West Ham midfielder enforcer Mohamed Diame.

On prospects of a hectic final few hours of the transfer window, the Arsenal manager said: "I cannot promise that. We will work on it."

Wenger admits the loss of Gibbs, who will now miss the England friendly against Brazil at Wembley, was a "big blow".

"Gibbs was an important player for us going forward and the game we want to play. It is a shame he is out for the next three weeks," the Arsenal boss said.

Despite Arsenal's rousing comeback, the Gunners remain four points behind Tottenham, who drew at Norwich, in the race for Champions League qualification and now trail fifth-placed Everton by three points after they beat West Brom.

Wenger, though, feels there are plenty of plusses to take from what was a third match unbeaten.

"We can smell something when we combine like we do. It was a fantastic effort, overall we know what to do to improve and to keep the positives," he said.

"We have to focus on playing football and what we want to do to the opposition.

"I believe the quality is there and we have to trust it and forget what happened in the past."

Wenger added: "We are frustrated because we have not won the game.

"Somewhere they can feel they have given everything, there is a certain sense of feeling they have done their jobs, but you want to win games and we didn't."

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