Thursday 8 December 2016

Wenger calls for collective effort as Arsenal try to salvage season

Jim van Wijk

Published 24/04/2011 | 05:00

Arsene Wenger maintains Arsenal must present a united front both on and off the pitch if they are to have any chance of forcing themselves back into the Premier League title race over the final five games of the season.

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The Gunners head to Bolton today having found themselves pushed back into third place by Chelsea as once again they failed to pick up maximum points after a pulsating derby at Tottenham ended 3-3.

While Wenger's men are unbeaten in 16 league games, they have won just three in the last nine, with draws proving so costly as the destiny of the championship slipped again from their grasp. The Gunners boss has been forced to defend his young squad from the now seasonal barrage of questions about their mental strength.

There are also growing rumbles of discontent among fans, with the Arsenal Supporters' Trust going as far as releasing a statement over their "considerable disappointment" after seeing hopes of Carling Cup glory dashed by Birmingham City, which was followed by exits from both the Champions League to Barcelona and FA Cup at Manchester United .

Wenger, though, insists his team have already performed way beyond expectations and is in no doubt with everyone pulling in the right direction, the campaign can yet be salvaged.

"The Arsenal fans can be very proud of their team and the experience I have is that they have turned up with a fantastic mentality since the start of the season," Wenger said. "We created a huge hope as we were fighting on all fronts, and the first quality a club wants to have is a fighting spirit.

"What I would like from our fans is to be behind the team until the last day, the last minute, of the season. This club has massive values, has been built on solidarity and it is important we show this kind of solidarity until the last second of the season."

Not so long ago, a trip to Bolton would have been a completely different proposition for the Gunners, so often coming unstuck against the strong tactics of Sam Allardyce.

But Owen Coyle has transformed the playing style of the Trotters, who look set for a top-10 finish but last week suffered a 5-0 FA Cup semi-final thrashing by Stoke at Wembley. Wenger has been impressed.

"Bolton have done very well, but they have just got a massive disappointment. How they will respond? I don't know, but we have to focus on our own performance," he said.

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