Arsenal Supporters' Trust express 'considerable disappointment'

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The Independent Online

Arsenal Supporters' Trust have expressed their "considerable disappointment" over the Gunners' recent results, but will reserve final judgement on Arsene Wenger's young squad until the end of the season when they will continue holding the club to account - both on and off the pitch.

Heading into March, Arsenal were very much in the hunt for all four trophies.

However, six weeks later and things are very different.

The shock last-minute Carling Cup final defeat at Wembley was swiftly followed by their exit from the Champions League in Barcelona before Arsenal then lost their FA Cup quarter-final away to Manchester United.

Saturday's frustrating goalless draw against 10-man Blackburn saw the Gunners drop seven points behind United, albeit with a game in hand ahead of their May 1 showdown at Emirates Stadium.

The disappointment of another season which promised so much looking set to now perhaps deliver nothing for the sixth season in a row prompted angry reaction from some of the Gunners supporters, becoming disillusioned by Wenger's continued faith in youth.

Indeed, the Arsenal manager himself seemed to publicly question that belief in his post-match interviews after what he described as a "flat" performance against Rovers.

The AST are viewed as the custodians of the club's traditions, representing the views of small minority shareholders, making their concerns directly to the Arsenal board and are about to conduct their regular members' survey.

While there is no suggestion of a fans' revolt, it is clear continually playing second fiddle to the likes of United, Chelsea and big-spending Manchester City is a difficult sell.

A statement from AST to Press Association Sport read: "The Arsenal Supporters' Trust was formed to increase supporters' influence in how Arsenal is run and we regularly represent the views of our members to the Arsenal board and chief executive Ivan Gazidis.

"In recent years we have been an influential voice on many issues such as calling for an improved commercial strategy including an overseas tour and the need for the club to field strong teams in all of the cup competitions.

"There is of course considerable disappointment amongst all Arsenal fans at recent results in the cup competitions and the long period Arsenal has gone without winning a trophy.

"The AST continually holds the club to account and have formal structures in place for reviewing the progress made every season.

"In the coming weeks we will undertake this work which includes holding consultative meetings and conducting a membership survey.

"When we have gathered the views of all of our members we will present them to the board and meet with Ivan Gazidis for a more detailed discussion.

"We will also hold our annual end of season Q&A with Ivan Gazidis which allows all supporters to put their views directly to the chief executive."

Wenger continues to stress his players must focus on returning to winning ways after three draws than be distracted by any jeers which greeted them as they walked off against Rovers.

The Gunners boss knows, however, there can be no more bad days at the office if they are to somehow overhaul United and claim a first title since the Invincibles campaign of 2003/2004.

Arsenal head to fast-fading Blackpool in search of a first league win since February 23.

Midfielder Alex Song is a concern, having picked up a knock to his troublesome knee last weekend, while Denilson missed the Rovers game because of a toe injury.

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