Arsene Wenger: I'll talk to Thierry Henry about Arsenal fan comments
LONDON -- Arsene Wenger wants to talk "face to face" with Thierry Henry after his former star player said Arsenal fans are angrier than ever, but acknowledged that "we are all unhappy" following Wednesday's loss to Swansea.
Henry, Arsenal's record goal scorer, seems to have touched a nerve with Wenger after he wrote in his weekly column in The Sun that he had never seen fans as angry as during the second half of Wednesday's 2-1 loss -- and that the reaction was caused by the poor performance of the players.
"You cannot say they were never as angry as that. Who can measure that? Who can compare that?" Wenger told reporters.
"Do you want your fans to be happy when you lose a home game? Where do you see that? So it doesn't look to me like a major statement. The fans are unhappy, I am unhappy, and we are all unhappy. If you were in our dressing room after the game, you would see that we were absolutely devastated to lose the game, the players. Nobody moved for minutes and minutes. It's normal. Why would you want people to be happy when you lose? It's quite remarkable that you are shocked by statements like that."
Boos rang out around the Emirates after Wednesday's loss, but Wenger was subjected to the loudest jeers when he decided to take off goal scorer Joel Campbell in the second half.
Wenger had said in his news conference ahead of Saturday's North London derby against Tottenham that Henry couldn't judge the mood of 60,000 fans because "he sits in the best seats in the stadium."
When he was later asked to expand on that, Wenger said Henry -- who is working as a media pundit while also helping coach one of Arsenal's youth teams -- was in a "difficult role." But he said he'd rather talk to Henry about it in private than through the media.
"I tell people what I think face to face," Wenger said. "Thierry Henry will not play tomorrow for Arsenal. His comments are like any other comments. They cannot help us win, nor be an excuse for us to lose. We have to focus on our own strengths."
Henry's column came after a week where Wenger has been under increasing pressure following three straight losses to Barcelona, Manchester United and Swansea. With the Gunners' Premier League title hopes possibly slipping away, former players Paul Merson and Ray Parlour also publicly criticised Wenger this week.
The Arsenal boss is in his 20th season at the club, and is under massive pressure to deliver a first Premier League title since 2004. The Gunners are six points behind leader Leicester and three behind Tottenham, going into Saturday's showdown at White Hart Lane.
One of the criticisms aimed at Arsenal -- this week and over the past few years -- is that the players don't have enough character to win the big games and lack a leader like Tony Adams or Patrick Vieira. But Wenger once again rejected the claim as well.
"Yes, I think they have character, of course they have character," he said. "You always get that [criticism] when you are in a difficult period. But even with Tony Adams, Arsenal had bad periods."
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.