/ Soccer

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger focused on immediate challenges amid questions over long-term future

Updated: Tuesday, 04 Dec 2012 20:33 | Comments

Arsenal beat Olympiacos 3-1 at the Emirates in October Arsene Wenger: 'We have many challenges and that is what we want to focus on'
Arsenal beat Olympiacos 3-1 at the Emirates in October Arsene Wenger: 'We have many challenges and that is what we want to focus on'

Audio

Manager Arsene Wenger maintains Arsenal must ignore all the negative headlines and broken cannon motifs if they are to turn their season around.

The Gunners take on Olympiacos in Athens for tonight's final Champions League Group B clash on the back of a 2-0 home defeat by Swansea.

That match was preceded by angry fans' demonstrations and followed by reports of dressing room bust-ups as well as questions over Wenger's long-term position.

However, Wenger remains defiant over just what his team can still achieve, despite the worst start to a league campaign under his long tenure.

"The situation is at the moment we are behind in the championship, we want to make ground back, we are qualified for 13 consecutive years in the Champions League, we are qualified in the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup and we have our chances in the FA Cup like everyone else," he said.

"We have many challenges and that is what we want to focus on."

"It is fashionable to have a go at Arsenal but this club is in fantastic shape" - Arsene Wenger

Asked if he would swap places with Manchester City, who failed to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League once again, Wenger said: "No, for one simple reason, we have played 15 games, so we have 23 games to come back on them, but once you are out of a cup competition, you cannot come back in again.

"We can make up the distance in the league, but in the Champions League, you are either in or out."

He added: "It is fashionable to have a go at Arsenal but this club is in fantastic shape."

Wenger left several first-team players, including England duo Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere, back in London and will pack the bench with youngsters tonight.

However, he insists there is no disharmony within the Gunners squad.

"Nothing really happened [after Swansea]. That the players are not happy after the game, do you want them to do a dance after we lost? This group of players is very strong, very highly motivated, has a very good spirit and they want to win. If they don't win, of course they are upset," he said.

"I am more worried if I see players who laugh in the shower after a game that we lost.

"We are in a job where the next game is the only important thing, that is how you can show how good you are."

Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny maintains the players have to now stand up and be counted.

"Our fans do not deserve to see us 10th in the table" - Wojciech Szczesny

The Poland international, 22, said: "When you have the quality of our players, we should be fighting for trophies and we do have one of the best teams in the Premier League.

"Our fans do not deserve to see us 10th in the table, but it is our responsibility to put things right and make sure we get back to where we belong."

Wenger maintains many of his players are "on the edge", and even if qualification were on the line tonight, when a victory may not be enough to overtake leaders Schalke, who play at bottom club Montpellier, he would have only brought "one or two more" of his senior men.

Wenger feels the likes of 18-year-old forward Zak Ansah, 19-year-old Swiss defenders Sead Hajrovic and Elton Monteiro as well as young English striker Chuba Akpom, 17, will all learn from the experience at the white-hot Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium.

"The pressure is a bit less big, but we will still want to win the game because we want to finish the job well and finish first in the group - we still have a chance to do that," he said.

TEAM NEWS

With the Gunners already qualified for the knockout stage, England duo Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere both stayed behind, along with Lukas Podolski, Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Per Mertesacker.

Youngsters Zak Ansah, Sead Hajrovic, Elton Monteiro, Chuba Akpom and James Shea are all in contention to make their senior debuts.

Provisional Squad: Szczesny, Vermaelen, Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Squillaci, Coquelin, Arshavin, Jenkinson, Gervinho, Chamakh, Angha, Ansah, Hajrovic, Meade, Monteiro, Shea, Akpom.

User contributions and/or comments do not, unless specifically stated, represent the views of RTÉ.ie or RTÉ.
Click here for Terms of use
Live!
Powered by NewsWhip