Wenger unmoved by Scholes comments
Published 28/03/2014 | 10:57
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger will not concern himself with criticism of his team from former Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes - a man with "zero" managerial experience.
Following the Gunners' 2-2 draw against Swansea on Tuesday night, in which midfielder Mathieu Flamini netted a bizarre last-minute own goal, Scholes had claimed Arsenal were "a million miles away" from challenging for the Barclays Premier League title.
The former United man, who won a string of medals under Sir Alex Ferguson, used his role as a TV pundit to launch a fierce attack on Arsenal, claiming they had "midfield players with no discipline" and "there are no leaders", as well as questioning the development of Jack Wilshere.
However, Wenger - who took charge of his 1,000th Arsenal game in the 6-0 defeat at Chelsea last weekend - used his pre-match press conference ahead of the visit of Manchester City to put the 39-year-old firmly in his place.
"Everybody has opinions, people who have managed zero games have opinions and we have to accept that. What you live is what you do on the pitch, and all the rest is only opinions," said Wenger.
"We are in a society where there are thousands of opinions every day, and some go for you and some go against you. You have to live with that.
"If six points (from the top of the league) is a million miles away, then I don't know what the translation from a mile into a point is."
The Gunners boss also took exception to Scholes' claim that midfielder Wilshere, 22, has "not improved since he was 17".
Wenger continued: "You cannot say that. Jack Wilshere is an exceptional player for me who has been handicapped by many injuries.
"Once Jack is back and consistently on the pitch, he will prove everybody wrong about that because he is an exceptional player - and Scholes knows that as well."
Wilshere is recovering from a fractured foot suffered when playing for England in a friendly against Denmark at the start of March.
Wenger expects the combative midfielder to continue his recovery in time to play some part in the final matches of the domestic season and also be available for the World Cup.
A win this weekend would see Arsenal move level on 66 points with City, who thumped Manchester United 3-0 at Old Trafford in midweek and have two matches in hand on all their championship rivals.
"We have not given up (on the title), believe me and we can show that tomorrow. It is our attitude that will decide that," Wenger said.
"Champions keep going when everybody else would give up. We have an opportunity to show that we have that mentality."
Beating City would boost Arsenal's flagging title hopes, and also put some distance back between themselves and fifth-placed Everton, who are six points behind and with a match in hand ahead of their showdown at Goodison Park next weekend.
"If people say that Everton can catch us, that means we can catch the teams above us as well because they play against each other," said Wenger.
"The next game is of massive importance because it is Man City and they fight at the top.
"They are the favourites with Chelsea and Liverpool, but when you play one of the favourites, you have an opportunity to shorten the distance with them."
Wenger added: "Let's not forget we are in an important race in the Premier League, we are in the semi-final of the FA Cup, so it is at the moment not as doom and gloom as everybody paints the situation.
"We want to finish first in the league and everything else, the other priorities are still there.
"You want to be in the Champions League of course, but it is never good enough to be anything other than first and you hope always you are the best.
"If you ask any team, and they have to be in the top four (so) you cannot say as well it is a shame, but you want to be first - you do not work day and night to be second."
Wenger also rejected reports suggesting City were ready to offer Arsenal full-back Bacary Sagna a lucrative deal when his contract expires in the summer, branding such a move "illegal", and remains hopeful the 31-year-old France international will stay on at the Emirates Stadium.