Wenger warns defensive top-flight teams will drive away fans

Click to follow

Wenger said the "trend at the moment is to play less" with teams more concerned with not losing, by packing the midfield and sitting back, than trying to win. He feared this would eventually drive away fans.

"You see fewer chances," Wenger said, adding that his complaint was not simply a reaction to Arsenal's stalled start to the season. "I try to be very objective, in that, do we lose or win, it doesn't matter really, but it is important that we play," he said. "It would be interesting to analyse how many shots on goal you have at the moment and how many three or four years ago."

Wenger also admitted that the negative way in which his own team played in last season's FA Cup final - when they stifled Manchester United - had even bored him.

"Ninety minutes is a long, long time when you sit on the bench and there is no goal chance, still no goal chance, still no goal chance," Wenger said. "And I am still involved. For people who pay it is even longer."

He defended his tactics then - but stated that it was an approach he has no intention of repeating even in Europe where his team has often underperformed, and from where he thinks the cautious approach has been imported. "It [the Cup final] was just on the day, as I felt that it was the only chance we had to win a trophy," Wenger said. "If it is to be negative on the day, I felt it was important mentally for the club to win the trophy."

It is also important, mentally, for both him and Arsenal to end their infuriatingly poor record in the Champions' League, even if Wenger will not alter his ways. Two quarter-final appearances represent a paltry return for such talent.

Tonight Arsenal face FC Thun, a club who have only been professional for less than a decade - the perfect opponents to face at the start of another European campaign, especially with Thierry Henry ruled out "for up to six weeks" with a groin injury. Another absentee is the suspended goalkeeper Jens Lehmann - Manuel Almunia will deputise. The defender Sol Campbell, although fit again, will warm the bench.

Although Wenger was polite and deferential towards the Swiss side's astonishing achievement to get this far, he knows that if Arsenal do not win by a handsome margin, it will be deemed another unconvincing performance in this competition.

Although Wenger said that he does not believe Arsenal are the only positive team in the Premiership, he clearly does not include Chelsea as another. "The teams are those that play to win and play football," he said, before asking which of last night's Champions' League teams would be watched through choice. Real Madrid was the consensus. "If I ask everyone what they will watch, they will say yes [to that]," Wenger added.

Arsenal (probable, 4-4-2): Almunia; Lauren, Senderos, Touré, Cole; Ljungberg, Hleb, Gilberto, Pires; Bergkamp, Reyes.

FC Thun (probable, 4-4-1-1): Jakupovic; Orman, Hodzic, Milicevic, Goncalves; Ferreira, Bernardi, Aegerter, Leandro; Gelsen; Lustrinelli.

Referee: G Gilewski (Poland).

Comments