Sunday 18 February 2018

Arsenal doesn’t need a defence coach: Defiant Wenger

Arsene Wenger isn't bothered by continued criticism of Arsenal Photo: Getty Images
Arsene Wenger isn't bothered by continued criticism of Arsenal Photo: Getty Images

MANAGER Arsène Wenger issued a defiant defence of his position last night after guiding Arsenal into the fourth round of the Carling Cup with a 3-1 win over Shrewsbury.

Wenger's squad have endured the worst start to a season under the Frenchman, who received the full backing of chief executive Ivan Gazidis on Tuesday in the wake of an appalling run of results and Saturday's 4-3 capitulation at struggling Blackburn Rovers.

Asked if he should consider bringing in a defensive expert – such as former player Martin Keown – to help shore up the backline, the Arsenal manager responded: "I have just completed 30 years of coaching. I don't want to answer this kind of question."

The misery around the Emirates Stadium, with an official attendance of just over 46,500, deepened when James Collins headed the League Two side ahead on 16 minutes.

However, England defender Kieran Gibbs levelled before the break with his first senior goal before the lively Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain fired in a 25-yard effort on the hour and Yossi Benayoun wrapped things up late on.

Despite the criticism, Wenger has no intentions of letting anything deflect him from his job.

On his 'vote of confidence' from the board, Wenger continued: "I am not bothered at all by this speculation.

"I am completely focused on doing well.

"I can understand that people are unhappy and criticise, but you know as well as I know people are very quick to go overboard.

"I accept critics and I do not say it doesn't matter that people criticise us, and like anybody else, I prefer it when they say I am good.

"When we do well we take all the plaudits, so we have to take as well all the blame when it doesn't go as well – but we have as well on both sides to take some distance.

"When it goes well we must not completely believe what people say and when it does not go as well, we must not completely believe it."

Wenger added: "I have just managed 14 years at this club and I have kept them 14 years in the Champions League and I hope it lasts another 14 years."

The Arsenal manager felt the "gamble" of a mixed squad selection had paid off, following what was a "nervy" opening spell.

"Shrewsbury were direct, but not without technique and had some dangerous situations. One-all at half-time was not too bad for us," Wenger said.

"In the second half, we took over and then it was all us."

The Arsenal manager added: "We played a young team with a mixture of young players and experienced players.

"We took a gamble and it worked because you could see some players that we haven't seen so much, like Oxlade-Chamberlain and [Francis] Coquelin, have done extremely well and that is positive for the future."

Oxlade-Chamberlain certainly caught the eye following his all-action display, as the 18-year-old £10 million signing from Southampton marked his first senior start with a fine strike.

"He grew through the game and became stronger and stronger," Wenger said.

"What came out was unbelievable – you didn't expect it after the first half.

"You could see that he will be a first-team player here, that is for sure. He has still things to work on but, very quickly, he will be knocking on the door."

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