Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain defends Arsene Wenger amid anger from 'harsh' Arsenal fans

The midfielder says the manager is not to blame for recent troubles

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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain says Arsene Wenger is not solely to blame for recent poor results and that to do so is "harsh".

The England international believes the Arsenal players must take responsibility for a stuttering campaign thus far that sees the Gunners two-points behind fourth-placed West Ham but 13 adrift of Premier League leaders Chelsea.

The Gunners beat Newcastle 4-1 on Saturday to ease some of the pressure on Wenger and a useful draw against Monaco in the Champions League has helped lift the mood at the club.

However, in the previous two weeks Wenger received abuse from a small section of Arsenal fans at Stoke and saw a banner urging him to step down unveiled at the West Brom game.

Oxlade-Chamberlain, who is a doubt for this weekend's game against Liverpool at Anfield with a groin problem, believes everybody at the club is responsible for falling off the pace, not just the manager. Arsenal have won just three of their eight away Premier League games this season, with their last trip being a 3-2 defeat at Stoke, where they were 3-0 down at half-time.

“It’s a hard one for me to say what I would say to the fans,” he said in the Evening Standard. “I understand their frustration. I would definitely say that and they are completely entitled to their own opinion. They pay good money to follow us around and support their club.

“I am sure they have supported us for a number of years so they are definitely entitled to their opinion and I can understand their frustration. But I wouldn’t put that on the manager. We have to stand up ourselves as players.

“On that day [at Stoke], it wasn’t the manager’s fault we went 3-0 down like we did in the first half. It was us as a group of players — we were not at the required level. On that day, it would have been harsh for a fan to completely blame our manager. As players, we are adults and we need to stand up and take some of that blame ourselves.

“All I can say is from my point of view, Arsene Wenger is an unbelievable man off the pitch and as a manager. He’s been brilliant for me in my career and I can say that for a number of players at this club. He has helped us massively and so it is not just him to blame when things go wrong.

“It is us as well as footballers to take responsibility but he would say the same thing in the same position as me [speaking publicly]. I am sure he will take responsibility because that’s what a great manager he is. All of us as a group need to work together to make things go the right way and we are trying to do that.”


Olivier Giroud and Mathieu Debuchy have returned to full fitness following lengthy lay-offs and although Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey remain among several players sidelined, the impending comebacks of Theo Walcott and David Ospina give a sense Arsenal’s injury problems are easing just in time for the busy festive period.

“There have been a lot of players working really hard — we see them out on the pitch and they look like they are getting stronger and stronger,” said Oxlade-Chamberlain. “To get Debuchy back is a massive lift for us because he is an international defender who brings a lot to our side. He brings a lot of experience and character so it is really good to have him back.

“Olivier can bring us goals and is a great target to hit up front. He is another massive threat going forward. We have a lot of players still coming back. Theo is not far — he is just coming back from a long knee injury and I know myself having come back from one that you do find little niggles here and there. It is just managing that for him and he will be back and firing on all cylinders soon.

“There are a number of others coming back and it seems like everyone is coming back at the right time for us. The players we have got fit at the moment are more than capable of getting the results we need in the weekends to come and to have other players coming back from injury is a bonus.”