Monday 20 November 2017

'We can prove the doubters wrong' - Wenger

Wenger adamant Gunners will make TV pundits eat their words

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger

Jeremy Wilson

Arsene Wenger is adamant that Arsenal's confidence will not be damaged by being written off by so many pundits and he has told his players they "have a good opportunity" to prove people wrong.

Arsenal, who take on Hull tonight, have led the Premier League since the middle of September, but Alan Hansen and the league's record goalscorer Alan Shearer are among those to have cast doubt on their title ambitions on the BBC's flagship Match of the Day programme.

"When I arrived here people explained I couldn't win the title as I am foreign," said Wenger.

"Everybody has their own logic. I just think you win the title through your quality. If we didn't win for eight years it is because we weren't good enough in the important moments of the season.

"We have a good opportunity to show we are good enough so let's take it.

"The only thing that is not changing is our mind, it's your mind. Because until now you never ask me about the pressure because you always thought it was an accident that we are there and it won't last.

"Now that it's lasting a bit longer, you start to think: 'We have to consider them a bit more seriously.' I have enough experience to analyse what we do and how well we play. I don't need someone else to tell me. I'm not upset by that at all. Sometimes I watch it (Match of the Day), sometimes not."

When he listens to pundits, Wenger differentiates between those who back up their opinion with reasoned argument.

"I take anything from anybody – I just try to analyse whether he has a point or not," said Wenger.

"Often he doesn't sustain his opinion by some work he has done to support that argument. But of course I have gleaned things from a pundit."

BOOSTED

Wenger is expecting his team to be boosted by the Emirates crowd.

"There is certainly more support from the stands than this time last year," he said.

"It will be a massive advantage because when we have a difficult patch during a game our fans feel it and support in response. Last year it was moaning when we had a weak period. You feel that. Of course, it gives the players more belief and more desire."

What happens on the pitch will, quite naturally, concern Wenger far more. His team will have to adjust to the responsibilities of leading the league and this means they cannot allow their standards to slip.

"When you are in the position we are in, every game a little bit is deciding our future.

"What is at stake is how can we bring the quality of our concentration and focus into every game.

"There is no real specific pressure. It is a desire. We want to be where we are.

"What is important is that we want to play well and maintain that desire to play together and work."

Wenger prefers the high-expectation demands at the top of the table to the catch-up game of recent seasons.

"At the end of the day you have to focus on playing well and on the quality of your game, and the enjoyment of playing together, and forget about the match.

"The pressure is the pressure. But you have always a kind of pressure as you want to win."

Bacary Sagna has an injured hamstring and Carl Jenkinson will come in to replace him at right-back.

Meanwhile, Wenger is confident Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen will still be at the Emirates Stadium when the January transfer window closes.

Vermaelen has made just six appearances for the Premier League leaders this season, with Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker the preferred centre-back partnership.

Wenger, who has denied reports linking him with moves for strikers Alvaro Morata and Alexandre Pato, is impressed by the way the Belgium defender has dealt with his lack of opportunities. © Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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