Arsene Wenger snaps back at Martin Keown's jibes after Tottenham defeat
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has rejected claims from the club's former defender Martin Keown suggesting the current Gunners backline ‘lack the hunger' to fight for Premier League points.
BT Sport pundit Keown was highly critical of Arsenal's defensive performance as they were fortunate to finish the north London derby conceding just only once as they lost the north London derby to Tottenham at Wembley.
Wenger admitted the result was a defeat his side could not afford in their battle to secure a top four finish in the Premier League, but he was not happy with Keown's snipe at his players on an afternoon when they were run ragged by Spurs striker Harry Kane.
"I don't think they lack hunger to defend," he declared. "They got caught by a super striker who is one of the best in the world. He scores against everybody. All the defenders in the world must lack hunger then."
Wenger also admitted his side's seventh away defeat in the Premier League this season was unacceptable, yet he refused to accept his side's best hopes of qualifying for next season's Champions League will be by winning the Europa League.
"It's very poor," he said of Arsenal's away form. "Once they had scored the goal, that maybe played a part in it. Football is about scoring goals. You can say, ‘We are not strong enough when defending our goal', but when you look at the numbers and compare them to the top six, we do not score enough goals away from home. These two weaknesses, one added to the other, explain it.
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"The top four is difficult now as this is a game we could not afford to lose, but it's too early (to focus on winning the Europa League). Football is not about switching off for three games and then switching it on for one game.
"Manchester United decided that once they were in the semi-final to focus on Europa League (last season). We are far from the semi-final and we have to fight to have a chance to come back. For me, it's a very disappointing result because the priority has to be to get into the Champions League from the Premier League.
"I'm not a great fan of qualifying through the Europa League because I don't think it's right. If it's an opportunity, we'll have to try to take it as well. The priority is still to be in the Premier League."