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."

News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
News
peopleSwimmer also charged with crossing double land lines and excessive speeding
Arts and Entertainment
A new Banksy entitled 'Art Buff' has appeared in Folkestone, Kent
art
News
i100
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

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style