Wenger admits Arsenal must fight loss of faith

Manager battling to shore up belief as Rosicky warns of season in danger of collapse

All of a sudden Arsenal's home game with Stoke on Saturday is taking on enormous significance. A match that a couple of weeks ago would have seemed like a routine victory for a free-scoring side has become a must-win game for a team rapidly in danger of losing its way after consecutive defeats in the Premier League.

In the wake of losing 3-0 to Chelsea on Sunday, Arsenal midfielder Tomas Rosicky admitted the club's season is in danger of falling apart unless they can beat Stoke at the Emirates. The Czech Republic international said: "Definitely we have to show our mental strength now. Letting our season fall apart would be the biggest mistake we can make. We have to show a reaction in the next game. That's all we can do. The next match is vital for us to get back on track. After a defeat like this, you need to have a good reaction; if not it could be even more difficult."

One of the most pressing tasks for manager Arsène Wenger is to convince his side they still have plenty to play for, despite two poor results in their last two Premier League games. They are 11 points behind leaders Chelsea, although they do have a game in hand, which is a home game with Bolton which has yet to be arranged. Even an eight-point gap is huge hurdle at this stage of the season.

Wenger admitted the Chelsea defeat may prompt others to lose faith in his Arsenal team, but he stated his determination that such a feeling will not affect the players. "We are fighters," Wenger said. "And we have to show that in our next game. The problem we will face now is that people will not believe in us. We have to make sure that lack of belief doesn't diminish our belief."

The absence of top scorer Robin van Persie for five months with torn ankle ligaments has to be addressed by Wenger as a matter of urgency. Before his injury Van Persie had been playing some sublime football, and Arsenal were purring. However with Nicolas Bendtner still recovering from his groin injury, there is no natural replacement. Putting the lightweight Eduardo da Silva up front in Van Persie's role did not work against Chelsea's robust defenders.

The Gunners remain the Premier League's top scorers, equal with Chelsea on 36 goals. But they have failed to hit the back of the net in their last two games, the 1-0 defeat at Sunderland and the home hammering by Chelsea. It will be no easier against a Stoke defence that has let in just 15 goals in 14 games, three fewer than Arsenal have conceded in 13 matches.

The solution for Wenger will have to be either to change his formation to allow for two strikers up front, to spread the burden of leading the line. Or he will have little option but to enter the transfer market next month. Perhaps if the former does not work, he will be forced to resort to the latter.

Defence is also a significant concern. Wenger was missing two left-backs, Gaël Clichy and Kieran Gibbs, through injury, but it was at right-back that they looked most vulnerable. On Sunday twice in the space of four first-half minutes Bacary Sagna allowed former Gunner Ashley Cole the space to cross and both times it lead to goals for Chelsea. Arsenal's lack of physical presence against Chelsea was also noticeable to Sagna, who said: "We can't fool ourselves. The gap was too large between the sides. Chelsea were stronger, they were better in the challenges, possession of the ball, passes. There is a lot of disappointment."

Catch us if you can: Drogba taunts rivals

Didier Drogba said Chelsea's rivals will have their work cut out to overhaul his club's five-point lead in the Premier League. Drogba, who scored twice in Chelsea's 3-0 win at Arsenal, said: "When you are top of the league, it is good, the others have to chase us. They have to produce and do more than us to win games. It is true that Manchester [United] are still there. We were in their position last year, behind and chasing. It is very difficult and now they have to come and catch us. I hope we have the team to stay ahead for the rest of the season."

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
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

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
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