Saturday 16 December 2017

Wenger clings to belief that shaky Gunners are heading in right direction

Arsenal head off on their travels again today, still with a few troubles packed up in their new kit-bags, still needing a strong performance at Borussia Dortmund tomorrow to dispel the air of uncertainty clinging to the club.

Arsenal's last roadshow was the horror performance at Old Trafford. Since then, Arsene Wenger has sought to infuse the team with new blood and new hope while Manchester United and Manchester City disappear over the Premier League horizon.

A shaky win over a Swansea side full of finesse but no finish simply showed how much work remains to be done for Arsenal, how much they miss the brio of Jack Wilshere, how confidence can ebb suddenly and how far they are behind the might of Manchester. It said everything that goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was their most impressive performer.

Wenger sounded upbeat as he prepared for the Champions League, drawing comfort from their previous European trip.

"We had our backs to the wall before the Udinese game,'' said the Arsenal manager. "When we travelled there everyone expected us to lose. We did well. So let's go with a similar attitude to Dortmund.''


They'll need that sort of determination in the Ruhr, even if reports from Signal Iduna Park indicate that Dortmund looked uninspired during Saturday's 2-1 defeat to Hertha Berlin without the suspended Mario Gotze.

Wenger knows the Bundesliga well, spending hours watching televised games, and he will also draw on Per Mertesacker's experience.

"He knows the German mind,'' said Wenger of a centre-half newly arrived from Werder Bremen. "He's calm, he talks and he communicates. When a German communicates, you listen!"

Even after this win, Wenger understands that nerves continue to jangle. A bright start by Mikel Arteta and company was not maintained. They should have built on a 40th-minute lead gifted to them when Michel Vorm's ill-judged clearance struck Angel Rangel, leaving Swansea in a tangle.

Andrey Arshavin collected the loose ball and scored from an awkward angle.

"We would have loved to give an emphatic win back to the fans especially after what happened at Old Trafford but it doesn't happen on command,'' added Wenger. "You just have to fight your way back."

Asked how long it will take to recover confidence, Wenger replied: "It's all right now.'' It's not yet. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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