My current Arsenal team works harder than the Invincibles, says Arsène Wenger

 

Arsène Wenger insisted that his current under-performing Arsenal squad works harder than even his title-winning sides of the past.

Three days after a full-strength Arsenal team was knocked out of the Capital One Cup by League Two Bradford City, Wenger launched an impassioned of his players, saying a lack of effort or focus was not the problem.

Asked whether the players hurt as much he evidently does, he said: “They do, don’t worry. You think they don’t care and they go home and think they had a fantastic game? They do care.”

Despite the apparent lack of commitment at times on the pitch, Wenger said the players’ effort stood out. “I have had groups who had fantastic results who were less serious than these players, believe me. Players who were less focused than this team. Of course these players are hurting.”

Arsenal under Wenger won the Premier League in 1998, 2002 and 2004 – with the unbeaten “Invincibles” – but currently sit seventh in the Premier League. Wenger, who said again that he was “responsible for the results”, explained this season’s shortfall was the result of a changing side.

“The difference is that we have created a new team. Some players have come in, some players have come back from injuries and we have to show now until the end of the season that we have the quality that I think we have.”

Many of Arsenal’s recent buys are not performing but Wenger again defended the squad, saying that Gervinho was a “good player” who was fulfilling his potential, despite his glaring miss against Bradford. When it was put to Wenger that he had spent £11m on the Ivorian, though, the manager was quick to point out that he actually only cost £8m.

There is inevitable pressure for Wenger to spend next month. “We will buy Lionel Messi in January,” Wenger joked, “and we will surprise you.” He was more serious, though, in denying any enthusiasm for heavy investment from the Uzbek billionaire and Arsenal shareholder, Alisher Usmanov, to fund purchases. “Look, I’ve always said the same, which is that we want to produce the money from our own resources.”

Continual qualification for the Champions League remains central to Arsenal’s approach, and Wenger is very proud of it. “We have qualified for the knockout stages for 13 years on the trot. When I listen to you, it must be a mistake there − why is this team in this spot? It sounds like we should be in a Championship spot. No other [English] team has done that in the Champions League. This season, at this moment, we are not happy. But we will turn it around before the end of the season.”

Wenger insisted that his whole staff were together, despite disagreements with Steve Bould revealed this week. “We are a united staff team,” he said.

There was no question for Wenger that he remains the right man for the club. “My job is to be determined and to give importance to what is important. What is important is I love football, I love this club and I give my best for this club.”

Abou Diaby is making “slow progress” from injury and will “certainly not” play again this year.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Actor, model and now record breaker: Jiff the Pomeranian
Video
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
News
i100
News
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
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

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?