Tuesday 17 July 2018

Vieira offers backing to under-fire Wenger

Arsene Wenger's Arsenal were comprehensively beaten at Liverpool
Arsene Wenger's Arsenal were comprehensively beaten at Liverpool

Patrick Vieira sees no reason for Arsene Wenger to leave Arsenal and accused critics of the Gunners boss of having short memories.

Wenger has led Arsenal to three Premier League titles in nearly 21 years at the helm, although the last came in 2003-04. The north London side has also won the FA Cup seven times during his reign.

The most recent of those cup successes - against Chelsea in May - and a win over the same opponents in the Community Shield earlier this month temporarily took the edge off many supporters' frustration.

However, the discontent resurfaced after Sunday's chastening 4-0 defeat at Liverpool, which Wenger himself described as "absolutely disastrous".

Some fans have again called for the Frenchman to go, but Arsenal great Vieira believes it is wrong to place all the blame on the manager.

"I have always admired Arsene," the New York City boss told Press Association Sport prior to the defeat at Anfield.

"Since I had the chance to work with him in 1997, I am not surprised (by his longevity).

"I think he is always putting the football club before himself.

"Everything he has been doing, he has been doing it for the football club and I don't see any reason why he should leave the football club.

"I think he has been doing a fantastic job and sometimes people forget that."

Midfielder Aaron Ramsey admits Arsenal must change something following the Liverpool loss.

It was the Gunners' second successive Premier League defeat and left them, and Wenger, facing yet more searching questions.

Midfielder Ramsey told the club's website, arsenal.com: "We're going to have to change something if we're to compete this year.

"Liverpool showed what it's going to have to take to compete for the Premier League and we're going to have to do something about it if we're going to do that. We're very disappointed with the way we performed."

Arsenal were comprehensively outplayed and their humiliation could have been greater were it not for several excellent saves from Petr Cech.

Roberto Firmino headed Liverpool ahead and Sadio Mane scored a stunning second to double the lead before the break. Mohamed Salah robbed Hector Bellerin to race away for the third and substitute Daniel Sturridge completed the rout.

The Gunners, whose only victory this term was a frenetic 4-3 defeat of Leicester, now have the best part of a fortnight, due to an international break, to take stock of their situation.

Ramsey said: "Most of the squad go away now, so when we get back we'll have to review that and hopefully we can move on and sort it out."

The manner of the defeat could reignite the protests against Wenger which created headlines and split fans last season.

Wenger signed a new two-year contract after winning the FA Cup in May but former Arsenal defender Martin Keown was among those to question the club's wisdom over that deal.

Keown told the BBC's Match of the Day 2 programme: "It is not time to panic but it is now looking like perhaps it was maybe the wrong decision. That decision was made and they are now going to have to live with it."

Keown said he was "scratching his head" at some of Wenger's tactical decisions and selections, with Alexandre Lacazette, the £52million summer signing, beginning the game on the bench.

The loss means Arsenal have won just two of their last 21 league games away from home against fellow top-six sides - Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool - since the start of the 2013-14 season.

The Gunners' next away fixture is at Stamford Bridge on September 17.

Press Association

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