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'Don't judge me until May' says Wenger as pressure mounts

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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger conceded his side were too soft against Stoke

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger conceded his side were too soft against Stoke

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger conceded his side were too soft against Stoke

Manager Arsene Wenger has called on everyone to judge Arsenal at the end of the season - not just when emotions are running high in the disappointment of defeat.

The Gunners headed to Istanbul yesterday looking to quickly get over the Premier League loss at Stoke, where they had trailed 3-0 at half-time on another afternoon to forget at the Britannia Stadium.

Wenger was later jeered and subjected to some personal abuse as the players boarded the train back to London.

However, the 65-year-old insists everyone must take a distance on current issues, with Arsenal having left several senior men such as Alexis Sanchez back in London and travelled to Turkey to face Galatasaray with half-a-dozen youngsters for the final Champions League Group D tie, the team already qualified for the last 16.

"Look, the response after a defeat is always very important. What we want is to come back quickly to a strong defensive performance, what we had before the game (on Saturday)," said Wenger, whose side are sixth in the Premier League table.

"We showed a lack of experience defensively (at Stoke), but we could have scored four or five goals in this game and the team response during this game was quite strong.

"For the rest, you expect that everyone is disappointed after that result, but the Premier League is difficult.

"We want to be judged at the end of the season, not after every single game where it is normal that emotion is always very high, so let us get our stability back defensively and see at the end of the season where we are."

constant

Wenger maintains the constant criticism from some sections of Arsenal support is not wearing him down.

"No, not at all. We have to cope with that. We are professional footballers. What is important is the next game and the desire to do it," said Wenger, who ended a nine-season trophy drought with victory in the 2014 FA Cup final.

"I am a competitive person. What is important is the next game and responding in a strong way, to play to win the game.

"It is part of our job here, you cannot always look for excuses. We are down. Everyone feels it. When you have a disappointment you respond in a strong way, that is what competition is about.

"You cannot as well say there is a guarantee to anybody you will never lose a game. Many teams will lose at Stoke, you have to be realistic as well."

Wenger took the unusual step of naming his starting XI in the pre-match press conference.

"To make it as simple as possible, I have 11 experienced players and six young field players on the bench. That means I have nothing to hide," said Wenger, whose team must win and then hope Borussia Dortmund lose to finish top of the group.

Full-back Mathieu Debuchy returns from three-months out with an ankle injury, while Hector Bellerin and Calum Chambers will also play. Lukas Podolski, Yaya Sanogo and Joel Campbell will lead the attack.

Jack Wilshere remains on course to return from his latest ankle injury around the middle of February, following the injury suffered against Manchester United on November 22.

Wilshere underwent surgery on November 27 . The north London derby against Tottenham on February 7 is likely to be just too soon for Wilshere to make his return.

GALATASARAY v ARSENAL

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