Arsene Wenger admits belief is on the wane at Arsenal

Arsenal manager says his team crumble against top teams after showing them too much respect

The Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, has bemoaned his players' lack of conviction ahead of tomorrow night's crucial Premier League game with West Ham United.

Arsenal can close the gap on the Champions League positions with victory tomorrow evening but Wenger has identified a mental block afflicting his team, something he desperately hopes will not affect them tomorrow.

Theo Walcott said on Sunday night that some of the players did not believe in themselves, after their second consecutive league defeat in which they gifted their opponents an early 2-0 lead and could not recover.

"I agree with him," Wenger said. "The players come out and think, 'We could have done better'. But when you look at the first half [against Chelsea] we lost goals we shouldn't lose, You cannot lose 50/50s in big games. You can say what you want but you have to go with a mentality in big games based on belief and total commitment."

Wenger says there might be too much respect from his players towards their opponents, especially after seeing how meekly they started against Chelsea on Sunday and Manchester City the previous weekend.

"The attitude of the players is fantastic," Wenger said. "They want to do well and are focused, maybe a bit too respectful in the big games of other teams. Every time we start to show what we can do it is when the game is already lost. That is what we have to change."

This season Arsenal have taken one point from five games against the top three, and Wenger agreed this was a trend. "This season you have to say yes," he said. "You want to win your big games and turn up with a committed attitude. Last year we could win big games and on Sunday you come out of the game and think, 'What is happening?' What the last two results have created is that we cannot waste any points now."

Victory tomorrow night would leave Arsenal just one point behind Everton and four behind fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur.

Although tomorrow night's opponents have just two away league wins all season, West Ham will have a threat in Mohamed Diamé, the powerful midfielder with a £3.5m release clause. Wenger is a known admirer. "He has a great presence in the games," he said. "I've seen him in games where he's had a big impact, he can drive the midfield."

Diamé would certainly improve Arsenal's flimsy midfield. Mikel Arteta is still out, as is Francis Coquelin, with a hamstring strain. Abou Diaby will have a late fitness test. Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain should both be back after illness.

Odds Arsenal 4-9. Draw 7-2. West Ham 13-2.

Kick-off 7.45pm. Highlights 10.30pm, Sky Sports 1.

Referee A Marriner (West Midlands).

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific