Arsène Wenger tells Arsenal fans that he's fed up with player sales too
Manager instructs team to ignore any unrest in the stands in today's north London derby
Saturday 17 November 2012
Discontentment among supporters has been a persistent undercurrent at Arsenal this season but Arsène Wenger insists the environment is no excuse for failure in the north London derby against Tottenham.
The disgruntlement voiced at several matches this season translated to a stormy Annual General Meeting last month with a section of the club's fans taking to singing "we want our Arsenal back" and aiming vitriolic abuse at chief executive Ivan Gazidis.
An awkward dichotomy of seven trophyless seasons combined with the highest ticket prices in the country has widened the gap between fans watching leading players depart and a board speak of ambition and the most solid financial footing in world football.
The derby against Spurs therefore comes at a pivotal moment for Wenger, who has not been immune to criticism himself. Last season, chants of "you don't know what you're doing" rang out in January's home defeat to Manchester United and Spurs arrived the following month threatening to open a 13-point lead in the table.
They raced into a 2-0 lead amid howls of derision from Arsenal supporters – many targeting Theo Walcott after a poor individual first-half display – but roared back to win 5-2 and change the mood.
Wenger is hoping for an equally ebullient experience this lunchtime with supporters of both clubs also urged to avoid anti-Semitic chants and the biannual abuse of the Arsenal manager and Emmanuel Adebayor.
"You think I'm not fed up [with losing the club's best players]? I want them as well to stay," said Wenger. "We have to deal with the crowd. That's our job. We cannot say we are professional and we are affected by any reaction of the crowd. It's our job to deal with that.
"If you want to be a top-level professional you have to understand that your crowd wants you to win and you have to deal with the fact they are not always happy. That's where you see the personalities and the sense of responsibility of the players.
"I understand the logic of it, you know. It's not that the guys are against you as an individual. They want you to win the game and you represent the guy who can make them happy, so that's part of it, but we haven't done too badly. We have finished every year in a good position.
"What affects me is that our fans are not happy. It doesn't stop me from doing what I do on the football pitch, but if you ask me, my biggest desire is to see our fans happy – like the players as well."
Arsenal have finished above Tottenham every season since 1994/95 – a year before Wenger took charge of the Gunners – but have won only two of their last seven Premier League meetings.
Asked if Spurs were closing the gap, Wenger replied: "I get that question every year. For some time, we were winning championships and they were not in the top four at all, so of course they've got closer in recent years. But fortunately we managed always to get above them.
"They have a good side every year and they are always a team who are now fighting with us and it's important in the end, the consistency, and certainly the results in the two derbies can have a big influence as well on the qualifying spots for the Champions League."
Wenger will make a last minute decision on the fitness of striker Olivier Giroud, who returned from international duty with France complaining of hamstring and calf problems, while midfielder Mikel Arteta (hip) will also undergo a late fitness test.
Derby day thrillers: Great goal gluts
Arsenal 5-2 Tottenham, 26 Feb 2012
Third-place Spurs took an early 2-0 lead and were set to go 13 points clear of their neighbours before Arsenal scored five in 27 minutes. Tottenham's season fell away.
Tottenham 3-3 Arsenal, 20 April 2011
Arsenal surrendered a 3-1 lead to fall out of title contention, Rafael van der Vaart scoring twice.
Arsenal 2-3 Tottenham, 20 Nov 2010
Trailing 2-0 down at half-time Tottenham hit back to win at Arsenal for the first time in 17 years, Younès Kaboul heading the winner.
Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham, 29 Oct 2008
Two goals in the dying minutes saw Spurs rescue a point in Harry Redknapp's first game in charge.
Tottenham 4-5 Arsenal, 13 Nov 2004
Defending took a back seat as nine players found the net, Arsenal winning on a ground where they won the title seven months previously.
Latest in Sport
Petr Cech blasts Chelsea supporters who sent him death threats after £11m Arsenal transfer: 'They are not true fans'
Nathaniel Clyne joins Liverpool: Transfer news live - Arda Turan decision, Petr Cech reaction, Sergio Ramos to Manchester United
Christian Benteke to Liverpool: Aston Villa striker ready to reject Tottenham
Football kits 2015/16: The good, the bad and the downright worst new shirts from around the world for next season
Arda Turan announcement expected on Friday: Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United possible destinations
- 1 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 2 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 3 French woman dies in freak bungee jumping accident
- 4 Greece crisis: Crowdfunding campaign crashes Indiegogo, raises half a million in just three days
- 5 Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck to divorce and end their 10-year marriage
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato
They are neither a 'state' nor 'Islamic': Why we shouldn't call them Isis, Isil or IS