Champions League

Wenger hits back at critics

2014-11-27 07:56
Arsene Wenger (AFP)

London - Arsene Wenger celebrated Arsenal's progress to the last 16 of the Champions League by taking a swipe at the critics inside and outside the Emirates Stadium.

Wenger found himself under siege in the run up to Wednesday's Champions League clash against Borussia Dortmund as a section of Arsenal's fanbase called for his sacking, while Alisher Usmanov, the club's second largest shareholder, went public with some stinging criticism of the Gunners manager.

Wenger's club have endured their worst start to a domestic campaign for 30 years and another loss against Dortmund would have jeopardised Arsenal's hopes of qualifying from Group D and further increased the heat on the Frenchman.

But Wenger was able to silence the doubters as Yaya Sanogo's first goal for the club was followed by a sublime Alexis Sanchez strike in a dominant 2-0 victory that ensured Arsenal will play in the knock-out stages of Europe's elite club competition for the 15th successive season.

With a crucial victory in the bag, Wenger took the opportunity to underline his belief in his players and his lack of respect for those who question his methods.

"I don't try to think about other people. What is important is what we do inside the club. We are united," Wenger said.

"This team has a top quality attitude. We showed it in the game. We were determined and committed.

"We were a bit more under pressure because we lost on Saturday when we were a victim of our generous attitude going forward. Tonight we had more urgency to defend when we went 1-0 up.

"When you work in the football club you realise it is not easy to have consistency and I'm very proud of making it to the last 16 again.

"The club deserves a lot of credit as well, but it's not enough because we want more."

Wenger's decision to select inexperienced France Under-21 striker Sanogo instead of Germany international Lukas Podolski could have given the critics more ammunition if he had performed poorly.

But he repaid Wenger's faith with a muscular effort that added a little more power than usual to Arsenal's attack.

"Sanogo played well, he protected the ball and won many challenges," Wenger said.

"He's a young boy, but he has presence and he's committed and very determined. That is vital up front."

Unfortunately for Wenger, Sanogo came off with a hamstring injury to join a growing injury list that also includes captain Mikel Arteta, who could be sidelined for several weeks with a calf problem suffered against Dortmund, Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck, Theo Walcott and Wojciech Szczesny.

"The injury situation is a problem because we have many games and now we have lost two more players," Wenger added.

Despite the injuries, Wenger said he was likely to field the strongest possible team in the final group match at Galatasaray in a bid to catch leaders Dortmund, who have a two-point advantage heading into their last game against Anderlecht.

"I will try to win the last game because you never know, if Anderlecht win in Dortmund and we don't win we will say we are stupid. It is unlikely though. It is 90 percent we will finish second," Wenger added.

Although Dortmund had already qualified for the last 16, boss Jurgen Klopp had been hoping for a more positive result as he looks to lift his team out their domestic rut.

Dortmund are in terrible form in the Bundesliga and Klopp acknowledged it would take a reliance on hard work to get back on track.

"We will get out of this through work, that always does the trick in life," he said.

"We don't have parties between games, we always work on things, but it is a different feeling now, we have to admit that.

"We don't need perfect football, just better results. People don't want to hear it but that's the truth."

Read more on:    arsenal  |  champions league  |  arsene wenger  |  soccer
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