Thursday 29 September 2016

Under-fire Wenger admits his team can be 'naive'

Jason Burt

Published 03/10/2015 | 02:30

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is under pressure after two disappointing Champions League results
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is under pressure after two disappointing Champions League results

Boring, boring Arsenal? There was a rare admission from Arsene Wenger yesterday that Arsenal can be "naive" when their attacking football ends in defeat.

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But it came only once he had, temporarily it transpired, allowed his seething anger to subside.

Before that Wenger had threatened to walk out of his press conference, when the name of his nemesis, Jose Mourinho, was mentioned, and lashed out at the legitimate debate he has otherwise endured for dropping goalkeeper Petr Cech ahead of the Champions League defeat by Olympiakos.

Not boring, boring Arsenal for Arsene. But certainly he finds the criticism - and the analysis - deeply "boring". And, even, "depressing".

"I think you lack a bit of creativity in the press at the moment," the Arsenal manager said. "That you follow a bandwagon that is very, very, very, very boring."

Irritation

That was four "verys" - so the emphasis and irritation was clear -and the pressure also. Arsenal go into tomorrow's Premier League fixture at home to Manchester United just three points behind the leaders but two Champions League defeats in their first two group games have exposed familiar complaints: of a soft underbelly, a lack of leadership, the failure to recruit the right players.

The charge sheet is the same except for one big addition - the decision to replace Cech, who will return against United and having finally signed a top-class goalkeeper with vast experience, with David Ospina.

It does not help the mood of frustration around Arsenal, who did not sign an outfield player in the summer, that Wenger admitted that while liking Anthony Martial he believed Monaco when they said the forward was not for sale - before United bought him for a fee rising to £58million.

His anger was fuelled by a desire to protect Ospina who, for Wenger, has been made a scapegoat although the bulk of criticism has focused on the manager himself and the sense of history repeating itself for Arsenal.

"One pundit says something on television and all behind that they repeat exactly the same thing," Wenger said. "It is quite boring because nobody came out with numbers of this game (against Olympiakos) where the game was won and lost. It's quite depressing to read that and to hear that, to all come just to the same conclusion and haven't watch well what has gone on on the pitch.

"We have lost the game because we didn't defend well, yes the goalkeeper (Ospina) made a mistake but we could still have won the game."

Accountability is an issue that Mourinho has raised, in the knowledge that he can needle Wenger who, ironically given the sour mood of his briefing, has 'celebrated' 19 years in charge of Arsenal this week.

"Still be the king," Mourinho had jibed at Wenger last week suggesting he is the only Premier League manager who will "keep his job" even if he fails.

"Look, stop that story or we stop the press conference," Wenger said as he threatened to walk out before reiterating the irritation he feels over being questioned about his choice of goalkeeper.

"If you have any interesting questions for Sunday's game I can answer, but apart from that let's not come back always to the same story.

"Come to the game on Sunday, you will see who is in the goal. You have not watched well the game on Tuesday night.

"You come always with that same story ... you can put the goalkeeper you want in the goal, he can make a mistake, you have to accept that."

That responsibility involved defending although Wenger claimed "it's part of the success of the Premier League" that "you want to see people attack".

He added: "If you play offensive football and you lose everybody kills you. But if you sit for 10 games with a team that refuse to play then you will fall asleep and everybody says, 'why don't you attack?'

"When you don't win the games, you are wrong, not only for the reasons that people analyse. You have to accept that.

"But when Barcelona win the European Cup and attack from everywhere, we say, 'Oh, what a fantastic game, it's absolutely marvellous'. If you attack and you lose the game then everybody says, 'You're naive.' And it is true."

Victory tomorrow and Arsenal may well believe a title challenge can be mounted.

"If I tell you now that we are three points behind Man United, playing Man United at home and I don't believe that we can win the Premier League, what do you tell me?" Wenger said. "You will slaughter me."

Not for the first time, he will have thought. Not for the first time.

Arsenal v Manchester Utd, live, Sky Sports 1, tomorrow, 4.0

Telegraph.co.uk

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