Wenger vows to fight on amid Arsenal crisis

Gunners manager blames injuries for club's slump but claims that recovery is imminent

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The Independent Football

Arsène Wenger has vowed to fight on through the most traumatic period in nearly 16 years as manager of Arsenal.

Wenger watched what must surely be the last piece of silverware he could win this season, the FA Cup, slip through his fingers during a 2-0 defeat at Sunderland on Saturday evening.

It has further increased the pressure on the already maligned Arsenal manager, who has not won a trophy since 2005, and who led his team to a crushing 4-0 defeat at Milan in the Champions League last week.

Wenger is contracted to stay in charge at the Emirates Stadium until 2014, a deal he signed only in 2010, when he believed his latest squad was on the brink of delivering silverware.

The last two years have failed to secure that desired trophy and such a comprehensive defeat at Sunderland has raised fresh questions about the longevity of the Wenger-Arsenal relationship. However, in the short term at least, Wenger spoke with passion about his position.

"People are always asking the same question, but the first trophy is to finish in the top four and that is still possible for us," he said. "I believe that is vital for us, so let's focus on that.

"How do we go about getting better results? By playing well in the next game. Everything is focused on that. A week ago, we won at Sunderland in the championship and that is our main target. Then we lost at Milan and then at Sunderland in the FA Cup.

"That's basically down to the fact that we had a lot to give on Wednesday night and then we had to travel again and that is difficult for any team in the world. We put a lot of spirit into this game and if we keep that spirit, and recover a little bit physically, then we can win that next game.

"Our main target now is to focus on the championship. We played away at Bolton and drew 0-0, we beat Blackburn at home and won away at Sunderland [in the league], so let's win our next home game and we will be fine.

"I think we have what it takes at the club when everybody is available, because we had many missing [on Saturday] and big, big players, too.

"And when you think we are in mid-February and Jack Wilshere has played zero games, Abou Diaby has played zero games and Per Mertesacker is out for the rest of the season and Santos is out for three months, that would be difficult for any club in the world to deal with. It's hard enough to lose one or two players and we have lost too many."