Arsene Wenger: 'Arsenal have lost one game in seven... look at the stats'

Wenger dismisses criticism of his team and plays down row after defeat by Swansea

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Arsène Wenger has insisted Arsenal are not a club in crisis and claims 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 to 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.

Reports emerged on Monday that the assistant manager, Steve Bould, read the Riot Act in the wake of their insipid display last weekend to add to the sense of unrest at the Emirates Stadium, but Wenger 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.

"On one side, you can say you want the players to care, to be passionate. I am more worried if I see players who laugh in the shower after a game that we lost. The players are of course upset, that's why what is important is to win the next game. We are in a job where the next game is the only important thing. That's how you can show how good you are.

"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. All the rest, I don't think that affects me at all. You would be surprised."

Wenger even went as far as to claim that he would not trade positions with Manchester City – purely in footballing terms at least – with the English champions already out of Europe's premier competition but just three points behind leaders Manchester United in the Premier League table.

Arsenal, by contrast, trail United by 15 points but will win their Champions League group should they win in Pireaus for the first time, having lost both last year and in 2009.

Asked if he would swap with City, Wenger replied: "No, for one simple reason, we have played 15 games, so we have 25 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."

In a broadcast interview conducted earlier than last night's press conference in Greece, Wenger explained: "We live in a world that needs a drama every day. Football is a game where you have to enjoy to play football and not live in a dramatic world in a consistent way. This club is in fantastic shape because we have a good team, we have a strong structure of the club that we have built over the years, we have a strong financial situation and we are mentally strong.

"I can understand that not everybody is pleased about that but that's a fact. And that's why we have to continue to behave like we do."

Apparently irked by a perceived lack of respect, Wenger also hit back at the Black Scarf Movement, which organised Saturday's protest attended by around 500 fans and is demanding a number of changes to club policy, including the removal of Peter Hill-Wood as chairman.

The 76-year-old is said to be recovering well after suffering a heart attack on Friday and Wenger said: "People who shout the loudest are sometimes treated like the majority. I think the large majority of Arsenal fans have a deep respect of Peter Hill-Wood, what he deserves.

"People forget what this man has done for the club. I hope he will get well very soon and come back to the board very quickly. It looks a bit like the guy who shouts the loudest now is the opinion of everybody – it is not always reflecting people's deep mind."

Wenger largely distanced himself from suggestions he will use next month's transfer window to improve the club's fortunes, but he refused to rule out a reported move for Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard, whose contract with the Blues expires at the end of the season.

"At the moment our focus is on the period of competition until the first of January and then we'll see if we need to something and we'll do it," he said. "When the transfer market opens, we will see what we do. If we do something."

Pushed to confirm if that was a "yes", he replied: "We are in the country of Socrates. He said, 'I know that I know nothing'. That's a bit like football."