Arsenal v Hull: Arsene Wenger ignores the sceptics and tells Gunners to seize Premier League title chance
The Gunners manager will be looking for his side to continue setting the pace against Hull City at the Emirates
Wednesday 04 December 2013
Leading the Premier League brings its own worries and pressures, but the judgement of pundits is not one of them. Arsène Wenger's Arsenal can extend their lead at the top of the table on Wednesday night if they beat Hull City at the Emirates. The fact that many critics still doubt that Arsenal can win the title barely registers on Wenger's concerns.
Even after the 3-0 win at Cardiff City on Saturday, there is still some scepticism about the durability of Arsenal's title challenge. Wenger, desperate for a fourth Premier League title after nine barren years, does not mind. "I have enough experience to analyse what we do and how well we play," he said. "I don't need someone else to tell me. I'm not upset by that at all."
There is a theory – put forward by Jamie Carragher – that Arsenal cannot win the league because they have not done so for a while. Wenger, though, said that critics would always reach for reasons, and that talent, rather than experience, would make the difference.
"When I arrived here people explained I couldn't win the title as I am foreign," he said. "Everybody has their own logic. I just think you win the title through your quality. If we didn't win for eight years it is because we weren't good enough in the important moments of the season. We have a good opportunity to show we are good enough, so let's take it."
Wenger did not admit any specific scorn, rather that he takes each point on its merits and does not let criticism bother him. "I take anything from anybody. I just try to analyse whether he has a point or not.
"Sometimes it's just someone saying their opinion without an argument. If it's something based on hate or love, or just gut feeling, then I just say: 'OK, it's an opinion – he might be right, he might be wrong.' If you just say: 'Arsenal will win the championship or Arsenal won't win the championship because they haven't won it for eight years,' then I think it's just an opinion."
What happens on the pitch will, quite naturally, concern Wenger far more. His team will have to adjust to the responsibilities of leading the league and this means they cannot allow their standards to slip.
"When you are in the position we are in, every game a little bit is deciding our future. What is at stake is how can we bring the quality of our concentration and focus into every game. There is no real specific pressure. It is a desire. We want to be where we are. What is important is that we want to play well and maintain that desire to play together and work."
Wenger prefers the high-expectation demands at the top of the table to the catch-up game of recent seasons. "At the end of the day you have to focus on playing well and on the quality of your game, and the enjoyment of playing together, and forget about the match. The pressure is the pressure. But you have always a kind of pressure as you want to win."
If Arsenal maintain their good form, he is sure that conventional wisdom will eventually come round to the facts. "The only thing that is changing is not our mind, it's your mind. Because until now you never ask me about the pressure because you always thought it was an accident that we are there [at the top] and it won't last."
"Now that it's lasting a bit longer, you start to think: 'we have to consider them a bit more seriously.' You start to think: 'is it a pressure for you?' No. We just continue to play well and that's the pressure we have: the desire to play well."
Bacary Sagna has an injured hamstring and Carl Jenkinson will come in to replace him at right-back.
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