Arsene Wenger remains confident Arsenal will go on to have a successful season, whilst also responding to criticism from Alisher Usmanov.
A 2-1 defeat to Manchester United on Saturday evening was the Gunners third loss in 12 Premier League matches, and sees them trail leaders Chelsea by 15 points already. This amounts to the worst start to a league campaign for 32 years for the capital club, which has all but extinguished the optimism raised from their FA Cup success of last term.
Once more, this has heaped the pressure on long-standing manager Wenger. But speaking ahead of the UEFA Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund, which could see them progress to the last 16 of the competition, the Frenchman remains in buoyant mood, and revealed he would bet on his players going on to enjoy success this season.
“We know the rules of the game, we know how it works,” he said. “What is important is how close we are together inside the club and how much we can respond to people who question our quality. I personally feel there’s a very strong bond inside the team and the club, and I feel this team will have a very strong season. I’m ready to bet with you on that.”
Wenger was speaking just 24 hours after Usmanov, the club’s second largest shareholder, delivered a stinging criticism of the team’s current plight. The Russian businessman suggested that the Arsenal boss hasn’t learned from previous mistakes, whilst also claiming the current squad needed strengthening on the pitch in every position.
“Over the 18 years I’ve been here I’ve shown I can take criticism, and everybody has the right to an opinion,” replied Wenger. “Having said that, we have values at this club. The first is that when we go through a difficult patch we show solidarity – that’s a very important one. The second one is that when we have something to say to each other we say it face to face – we don’t need to go to the newspapers. It is an opinion that I respect, but when you’re from this club you’re from this club. You’re in or out – you cannot be both.”
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