Arsene Wenger has called on Arsenal fans to stay united behind the team despite their recent losses and refused to give up on winning the Premier League title.
The discontent among Gunners supporters has grown again following the consecutive defeats to Watford and Chelsea last week which left Wenger’s team 12 points behind the Blues in the league standings.
And while some fans have indicated they plan to stay away from the Emirates for Saturday’s game against Hull City, Wenger said that turning their backs on the team won’t be helpful.
“You cannot be a fan until last Tuesday and not be a fan anymore and not be behind the team this Saturday, it doesn’t make sense,” Wenger said at his news conference on Thursday. “All the other clubs, everywhere we fight — with Man United, Man City, Liverpool — they have big expectations as well and big histories.
“We are in a fight there, we absolutely have to be united or we have no chance to do it. You have Tottenham, everyone is in the fight and everyone is behind their team. We have to do exactly the same, even if we had two disappointing results.”
And while most fans have given up on Arsenal’s Premier League title chances and turned their focus to the question of whether Wenger should stay at the club next season, the Frenchman himself said it was too early to give up on catching Chelsea.
“It’s never over. We cannot behave like that. Even if you think it is, I don’t. We cannot even think like that,” Wenger said. “We look at the teams around us and we are all in a pack that is very tight, where the fight for every position will be massive like it has always been in the Premier League, maybe even more this season than ever before.
“The way we respond to our disappointing result last Saturday is vital. If it is over for us, it’s over for everybody else. We are all together in a pack there, so first we have to focus on staying at the top, then if we can reduce the distance between us and Chelsea after, you never know. They have an advantage where they aren’t playing in Europe. They have no midweek games, so of course they are in a very strong position.”
Wenger’s own future is still undecided as the 67-year-old has yet to come to a decision about whether to renew his contract, which expires this summer. He brushed aside renewed questions about his plans on Thursday, and said the growing discontent won’t affect his focus on winning the next game.
“It’s not me at stake, it’s Arsenal Football Club and the season of Arsenal Football Club which is at stake,” he said. “And I think that in the football club it’s important that you have different opinions, yes, that always happens. But what is important and what matters to us is not the opinions of people, what matters is the next result and how we respond to difficult situations. This is a period where we have to stick together and focus and respond.”
Wenger has previously said his decision on whether to renew his contract will be based on the team’s results this season, and refused to elaborate on whether the mood among fans will also be a factor.
“Ideally you want everybody to be happy. But as well, I think Arsenal is made of special strength and that strength as well is to be united when it doesn’t go well and that’s what we want,” he said.
“It’s very nice for you to care about how I feel, but it’s not the most important. I am a professional and I have to do a job and that’s what I want to do.”