Arsenal critics 'too emotional' - manager Arsene Wenger
LONDON -- Arsene Wenger has responded to the criticism of Arsenal this week by saying people are "too emotional" and challenged his players to use the negativity as motivation to turn things around.
Wenger and his team have been scrutinised following their 3-2 loss at an under-strength Manchester United on Sunday, with even some former Arsenal players questioning the Frenchman's ability to deliver the Premier League title this season.
Speaking at his news conference ahead of league games against Swansea and Tottenham, Wenger has urged for calm.
"I'm never surprised by the criticism that comes, that's part of the media today. The opinions are always a bit excessive and emotional. But we have to deal with that, and I don't complain about that," Wenger said at a news conference.
"What we want to do is to transform the negatives around us into positives and create even more solidarity. Let's not go overboard, we do not play to avoid being relegated, we play to fight for the Premiership and that's why we have to put the criticism into the right place."
Asked about comments made by the likes of Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness, who said Arsenal were "weak" and almost a "joke" against United, Wenger said: "I don't want to respond to individual criticism.
"I think people are a bit too emotional, and we want to put that into perspective and analyse things a bit more in a [productive] way. I believe this club is respected all over the world no matter what people say."
Even former Arsenal players like Paul Merson and Ray Parlour have joined in the criticism. Merson said Wenger must go if Leicester or Tottenham win the title ahead of the Gunners, while Parlour said Wenger has failed to bring in enough leaders in the team.
Wenger made it clear he doesn't think those types of comments are helpful, adding: "This club has been built before me on values, and what we try to do is respect these values. And when we have a disappointing game, [people must] show that those values mean solidarity, togetherness and fight together.
"After that, what people say, everybody has a freedom of opinion and I enjoy very much that people care about my future, and I thank them for that. But apart from that in my life I have always taken care of myself and my future, and I have not done too badly."
Instead, Wenger called on fans to stick together through the times, saying maintaining the support could be crucial in the final part of the season.
"What you want from your fans is to fight together until the last game of the season," Wenger said. "What we have learned from the league is that it's very tight, that everybody can drop points. And the teams and the fans who can show togetherness and solidarity until the end might come out of it in a positive way.
"And that's what we want, fight together until the last game of the season and not give up when you have a bad game. That's what fans and players and teams and clubs are about."
Arsenal are five points behind leader Leicester and three behind Tottenham, things could look much better again if they bounce back with two victories this week. The Gunners host Swansea on Wednesday before playing at White Hart Lane on Saturday.
"We had a very bad week, and it's down to us to make this week a very good week. That's why you love competition," Wenger said. "A bad week is not permanent. It's what you make of it, and how you respond. That's the beauty in sports, things change quickly one way or the other. And that's absolutely beautiful as well."
Wenger also dismissed the suggestions that Arsenal lack leadership, saying the side have "a leader in every position."
"In the collective psyche, you need a saviour when you have a bad result," Wenger said. "We have won many big games this season with exactly the same players. I don't feel at all that I lack leaders."
However, when asked to identify who those leaders are, Wenger said: "The team. In every position I think the players lead, and we try to develop that with our work to have a leader in every position."
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him @MattiasKaren.