Saturday 24 February 2018

Wenger hopes comeback will help Arsenal salvage season

Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal can still salvage their season Photo: PA News
Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal can still salvage their season Photo: PA News

Jeremy Wilson

Arsène Wenger has claimed that Arsenal's comeback against Manchester City can be pivotal in salvaging their season and praised what he called the "sensational" support inside the Emirates.

A 2-2 draw still leaves Arsenal sixth, seven points outside the top four, but after the worst period in his 21 years at the club Wenger wanted to seize the positives of avoiding what would have been a seventh defeat in 10 games. "We started with quite a high level of anxiety and we were punished," he said.

"It was a mental test, and you could see the team was touched on the confidence front and that the fluency in our game suffered.

"We have shown great mental resources because we were twice down. Hopefully it will help us to restart. We have responded in a united, strong way."

There were again protests about the prospect of Wenger signing a new contract, with chief executive Ivan Gazidis having earlier addressed fans and reiterated that there must be significant change this summer even if Wenger stays.


Wenger has told the club that he is ready to "reinvent" himself, and Arsenal do believe that the 67-year-old is capable of becoming what Gazidis has called a "catalyst for change".

However, there is also an appreciation of the volatile fan mood and Gazidis stressed that the final decision must be "mutual".

There is still no certainty on when that decision will be made, though it appears Wenger's tenure is resting on results over the next two months.

"I don't know how long I will be here but I am clear in my head - that's the most important thing," said Wenger. "The decision will be soon. I have always shown complete loyalty and I'll continue to do that as long as I'm here. After, I will always support this club and wish it goes even better."

Arsenal are at home again on Wednesday against West Ham and Wenger hopes fans will stay with the players. He is likely to be without Laurent Koscielny, who came off at half-time with an Achilles injury, though Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could return.

"Our fans were fantastic," said Wenger. "In the very difficult moments in the first half I felt they could have turned against us but they were absolutely sensational."

Pep Guardiola was convinced his team should have had a penalty and spoke to referee Andre Marriner after the game. He said: "I said to the referee, 'The same happened against Tottenham'. The same referee. But I said many times, what I can do is control what I can control. About the decisions of the referee, it's not my business, but it's bad."

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