English Premiership

Wenger won't be distracted

2011-09-21 09:42
Arsene Wenger (AP)

London - Arsene Wenger insists speculation over his future with Arsenal will never distract him with rebuilding the troubled Gunners.

Wenger's side have made the club's worst start to a season for 58 years after Saturday's 4-3 defeat at Blackburn left them languishing just above the Premier League relegation zone.

A shocking 8-2 loss at Manchester United, combined with the departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, has given rise to rumours that Wenger's future with the north London club could be in doubt.

Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis moved to quash that speculation on Tuesday when he issued a vote of confidence in Wenger.

But the Frenchman's stock briefly looked like plummeting even further when League Two minnows Shrewsbury took a 1-0 lead in the League Cup third round in front of a stunned crowd of well-below capacity at the Emirates Stadium.

James Collins' header in the 16th minute threatened to make Wenger pay for his gamble of fielding a youthful starting line-up.

However, England Under-21 defender Kieran Gibbs levelled before the break with his first senior goal before teenage winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain fired in a 25-yard effort on the hour and Israel midfielder Yossi Benayoun, on loan from Chelsea, wrapped things up late on.

Despite the criticism, Wenger has no intentions of letting anything deflect him from his job.

Asked if he should consider bringing in a defensive expert - such as former player Martin Keown - to help shore up the backline, he said: "I have just completed 30 years of coaching. I don't want to answer this kind of question."

On his 'vote of confidence' from the board, Wenger added: "I am not bothered at all by this speculation. I am completely focused on doing well.

"I can understand that people are unhappy and criticise, but you know as well as I know people are very quick to go overboard.

"I accept critics and I do not say it doesn't matter that people criticise us, and like anybody else, I prefer it when they say I am good.

"When we do well we take all the plaudits, so we have to take as well all the blame when it doesn't go as well - but we have as well on both sides to take some distance.

"When it goes well we must not completely believe what people say and when it does not go as well, we must not completely believe it.

"I have just managed 14 years at this club and I have kept them 14 years in the Champions League and I hope it lasts another 14 years."

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