With Arsenal FC scheduled to take on archenemies Tottenham Hotspur at Emirates Stadium in their crucial league match on Sunday, their under-pressure manager Arsene Wenger has told his players not to feel sorry for themselves as such a feeling ‘would be criminal’ at this stage of the season.
Last week, Wenger’s men suffered two horrible defeats, which ruined their hopes of ending their trophy drought that is now close to touching the seven-year mark. They were first thrashed 4-0 by AC Milan in their round-of-16 tie at San Siro before being knocked out of the FA Cup by Sunderland at the Stadium of Light just three days later.
While there is little doubt that the injury-plagued Arsenal are at one of their lowest points of the season, their North London rivals Tottenham couldn’t be any better. Coach Harry Redknapp’s men have ten more points in the league than Arsenal and sit at a comfortable third position on the league table. Their Europa League campaign may have ended in December but they are still pretty much alive in the FA Cup, where a simple home victory over League One club Stevenage will book their place in the quarterfinals of the historic competition.
In spite of the fact that almost everything has been working against them, Wenger has warned Arsenal players not to feel low about the mess they currently find themselves in and just focus on their battle for the fourth spot.
Earlier today, the 64-year-old manager said: “No matter what we say at the moment it will be printed in a negative way. It is up to us to transform that into a positive way. You can’t complain. We are in a fantastic job and we have a big game in front of us – to feel sorry for ourselves would be criminal.
“We have a good opportunity to show that we have character, that we have the mental qualities to play for this club and let’s go for it.
“When you are in our situation at the moment, it is important you show faith in your players and stick with them. We live in a world where everybody is positive when it goes well, but life is not only ups, it is ups and down, successful lives are how people respond when you are down.”
As the graph of Arsenal’s performances have gone down, the number of opinions and evaluations coming out of their former players about the club’s plight have increased significantly. In the last few days, Emmanuel Petit, David O’Leary and their former manager George Graham have all questioned Wenger’s methods, but the Frenchman has refused to respond to the criticism being directed towards him.
“I do not need to respond to every single opinion. Everyone has the right to have an opinion, it does not mean they are right. Overall I believe you can understand everyone has an opinion because they care about the club and they want it do well. It is down to us to make sure that we do well,” Wenger said.
When asked to disclose his thoughts about Tottenham’s seemingly prosperous position and the upcoming mouth-watering clash between the two bitter rivals, he replied, “You judge at the end of the season. The only thing you can say is that in the last 15 years Spurs have finished behind Arsenal.
“Tottenham are doing well and we are on a good run in the championship so it will be a good game. Every game is massive now until the end of the season, but it is exciting. What is terrible is to play a game of no importance. What is important is that we enjoy it and come out with a good performance.”