Tuesday 22 May 2018

Arsene Wenger unmoved despite fans' frustration

Arsene Wenger's current Arsenal contract runs until 2017
Arsene Wenger's current Arsenal contract runs until 2017

Arsene Wenger has again insisted he will not leave Arsenal this summer despite thousands of supporters expected to vote with their feet by not attending Thursday's game at home to West Brom.

The Gunners have all but fallen out of the race for the Barclays Premier League title and are now in a battle to secure a top-four finish and Champions League qualification.

A 1-1 draw at home to Crystal Palace on Sunday saw more jeering from sections of the Emirates Stadium, having seen their team win just two of their last seven league outings.

Some reports claim more than 2,500 tickets remain on sale after a lack of interest from season ticket holders - but Wenger was unmoved when asked if recent results, as well as banners protesting at his continued role, could force him to reconsider his earlier announcement that he will at least see out his current deal with the club, which expires next year.

"I do not want to come back on that, I respect always my contract," he said when asked about remaining in charge.

When pushed further he replied curtly: "I've just answered your question."

West Brom are the visitors to north London on Thursday and, with Arsenal winning only two league games in front of their own fans since the start of February, Wenger admits fans are allowed to make their own minds up in regards to attending the match.

"Look, everybody is free to do what he wants with his season ticket," he said.

"We have to live with that. It's a Thursday night, it's unusual. We just had a disappointing result at home, maybe that plays a part as well. First of all it's not experienced yet and we have to live with that.

"But we have to take that with distance as well, and focus on our job. The emotional part in our game is always very high but changes very quickly as well.

"Judgement from people is something we have to live with. It's down to us to change that belief and judgement."

Wenger has no fresh injury concerns ahead of the clash, but it is unlikely Jack Wilshere will feature despite the 24-year-old playing the full 90 minutes twice for Arsenal's Under-21 side.

The England international has not featured for the first team in almost 11 months after breaking his fibula on the eve of the season - but Wenger is hopeful he will be in contention for Sunday's trip to Sunderland.

"He has absorbed well his first obstacle of getting games," he added.

"That means he has finally got 90 minutes and he has had no setbacks and the positives are that in every game he was sharper.

"That means he has a good fitness basis. Overall, the progression should be normal. I don't think he will be available for selection tomorrow, but from then it is whether I select him or not."

Wilshere's place in Roy Hodgson's England squad is likely to depend on how much football he plays between now and the season's end - but Wenger has again said it would not be a gamble to take him to the European Championships.

Asked if Wilshere has enough time to get into the England squad, Wenger said. "Yes, because he has not played three games already.

"The European Championship starts on June 10 and until then is nearly two months. If you look at his fitness at the moment, in two months he should be perfectly fit. If he has no setbacks he would not be a gamble."

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