Defiant Wenger in no mood to brook criticism of club in 'fantastic shape'
Olympiakos v Arsenal:Arsene Wenger claimed it is “fashionable to be against Arsenal” as he railed against emotional analysis of the club’s season so far and sought to close ranks to inspire a fightback.
The manager, whose team sit 10th in the Premier League after their poorest start to a season since 1994-95, was defiant as he reflected on the fallout from Saturdays 2-0 home defeat by Swansea City.
Yet he retained characteristic conviction in his methods and pronounced the club is in “fantastic shape”.
Wenger was preparing for tonight’s Champions League tie against Olympiakos in Athens; his team are already assured of qualification, albeit not as group winners, and he has left a host of first-team regulars in London to give them a much-needed breather.
“I can take a distance with things when it goes well and when it goes less well,” said Wenger. “I dont believe I am the king of the world when it goes very well, nor that I am the worst manager in the world when it doesn’t go well.”
He went on to describe Arsenal’s situation as “not as dramatic as it is painted. What has changed a bit is that the world has become more emotional about every single thing, but that’s not the real world. The real world is to take things in the right way and care about what we do. I really care about . . . this club . . . Arsenal will lose games again, and Arsenal will win games again.”
Wenger said his side have to play well and face the game the way Arsenal want to play football. He said the north London club had always done that.
“We live in a world that needs a drama every day. You have to enjoy to play football and not to live in a dramatic world in a consistent way. This club is in fantastic shape. We have a good team, we have a strong structure that we have built over the years.”
Wenger had bemoaned player fatigue after the Swansea defeat, in the wake of a gruelling schedule of matches, but he found himself taken to task by pundits including Phil Neville, the Everton captain, who questioned on Match of the Day why Arsenal ought to be more tired than everybody else.
“It’s fashionable to be against Arsenal so every single word you say, people turn it against you,” said Wenger.
But he said that this didn’t stop him from saying what he truly believed after the game. “You have some players . . . they played internationals, they played against Montpellier in the Champions League, they played two away games at Aston Villa and Everton . . . we were the only ones who played two away games [in four days] . . . and that’s why I felt we lacked a bit of freshness.
“It’s not the only explanation for our defeat. People turn it round . . . it’s superficial analysis of things, to turn it against you when it suits you . . . The only thing that matters is: ‘Do we play well tomorrow?’ ”
He asked why was it fashionable to be against Arsenal? “Because we lost a game, not because we are victims. For everybody, it’s the same. When you are a big team who expects to do well and you lose a game . . . it’s quickly fashionable.”