Arsenal not in crisis, says defiant Wenger

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The Independent Online

Arsène Wenger last night insisted Arsenal are not a club in crisis and claimed he is unaffected by speculation over his future.

The 63-year-old has rarely faced more tumult during his 16 years in charge than presiding over a team lying 10th in the Premier League after Saturday's 2-0 defeat by Swansea, which began with a fan protest and ended in a chorus of boos.

After their worst start to a Premier League campaign under Wenger, a return to European action provides brief respite, with Arsenal already qualified for the Champions League last 16 and only top spot in Group B to play for against Olympiakos this evening. Victory combined with Montpellier gaining at least a point against Schalke would secure first place.

Reports emerged yesterday that the assistant manager, Steve Bould, read the Riot Act in the wake of their insipid display last weekend but Wenger, above, came out fighting in defence of his team's record.

"Look, nothing really happened," he said. "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.

"We lost one game in the last seven. You should look a little bit at the statistics and not only read the newspapers. I only have one pressure and that is to win the next football game, believe me, and to play the football I love."

For the next game, at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium here in Piraeus, most of the players set to be involved are not first-team regulars, with several, including Andrei Arshavin, Sébastien Squillaci and Marouane Chamakh, given a rare opportunity ahead of possible departures next month.