Arsène Wenger insists he is still the right man for the job at Arsenal

Manager admits side’s hopes of top-four finish are over after 2-1 defeat at Brighton

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger heard the travelling fans call for him to leave during a dismal first half at the Amex Stadium. Photograph:  Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger heard the travelling fans call for him to leave during a dismal first half at the Amex Stadium. Photograph: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

 

Arsène Wenger admitted Arsenal’s hopes of a top-four Premier League finish were over after the 2-1 defeat at Brighton.

The club lag 13 points behind fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur and the Europa League appears to have become their only shot at Champions League qualification. They play Milan in the last 16.

Wenger heard the travelling fans call for him to leave during a dismal first half at the Amex Stadium but he maintained he was the right man to revive the club’s faltering fortunes. This was a fourth successive defeat in all competitions – the first time the Frenchman has endured such a sequence since 2002.

“It is very difficult, nearly impossible now – we are too far behind,” Wenger said of Arsenal’s top-four prospects.

“We have to be realistic. We need two teams to collapse and I don’t see that happening. We have to give our best for as long as we can and the Europa League becomes important.”

Petr Cech was at fault for both of the Brighton goals and he tweeted an apology. “If you want to win a game away from home in the best league in the world, your goalkeeper can’t concede two goals like I did today,” he said. “It’s simply not possible. The team fought back but the damage was done.”

Arsenal had arrived at Brighton on the back of defeats against Manchester City in the League Cup final last Sunday and the league on Thursday.

“I can understand the frustration [of the supporters],” Wenger said. “What can I say? The League Cup in the middle of the season makes it difficult if you don’t win it. It brings a lot of negative waves.

“On top of that, the rearranged game on Thursday night [against City] didn’t help us to compete today. The negativity after losing the final, plus the fact we’re not in a fantastic position in the league, hits us hard. Am I still the right man? Yes, because I’ve done it before. I believe a quality of a manager is to try to shorten a crisis. I believe I can do that.”

Survival

Goals from Lewis Dunk and Glenn Murray were enough to beat an uninspiring Arsenal and give Chris Hughton’s side an even better chance of securing top-flight survival.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a consolation goal before the break but the siege of the Brighton goal never came, as Arsenal headed back to north London still with only three away Premier League wins to their name this season.

“We had difficulty to get going and we suffered a lot physically in the first half,” Wenger said.

“After that, mentally as well I believe that the lack of confidence, linked with the physical aspect, made us lose some balls where they took advantage of it.

“Overall, on top of that, we made some defensive mistakes, where they took advantage of it as well.

“In the second half, it was all us. But we lacked a bit of sharpness and freshness physically, to make the difference.

“At the moment, we play too many games and are charged negatively on top of that because we lose them. So it’s difficult.”

While Arsenal’s season heads towards a write-off, Brighton are now unbeaten in all competitions since January 20th.

They have an FA Cup quarter-final with Manchester United on the horizon and broke their record of not beating a top-six side so far this season.

“What it feels at the moment is that this is a big win, particularly given who we were playing against,” manager Hughton said of a victory which takes his team seven points clear of the relegation zone.

“Our form allowed that to happen. We were good first half and might have scored another. We’ve been on the edge all season.

“Every game we come into we have to play at a level to get something. We’re definitely hitting our best form at the right stage of the season. It’s now whether we can take it forward.”

- (Guardian, AP)

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