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Dec, 3, 2012

Wenger: I wouldn't swap with City

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger would not trade places with Manchester City even though the Gunners find themselves languishing in tenth place in the Premier League with Roberto Mancini's men second in the table.

• Marcotti: On player selections
• Blog: Playing without pressure

Wenger, who has taken a youthful looking squad to Greece to play Olympiakos in the final group game of the Champions League, said that City's elimination from the competition before Christmas means the current Premier League champions are not in such an enviable position.

Asked if he would swap places with Manchester City, the Arsenal manager said: "No, for one simple reason, we have played 15 games, so we have 23 games to come back on them, but once you are out of a cup competition, you cannot come back in again.

"We can make up the distance in the league, but in the Champions League, you are either in or out.''

He also played down reports that defensive coach Steve Bould had lost his cool with the squad in the dressing room after Saturday's 2-0 home defeat to Swansea.

"You should look a little bit at the statistics and not only read the newspapers,'' Wenger said. "I only have one pressure and that is to win the next football game and to play the football I love. All the rest, I don't think that affects me at all. You would be surprised.

"Nothing really happened after the game. But the players were not happy. You want them to dance? This group of players is very strong, very highly motivated, has a very good spirit and they want to win. If they don't win, of course they are upset.

"I am more worried if I see players who laugh in the shower after a game that we lost. We are in a job where the next game is the only important thing, that is how you can show how good you are.

"The situation is at the moment we are behind in the Championship, we want to make ground back, we are qualified for 13 consecutive years in the Champions League, we are qualified in the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup and we have our chances in the FA Cup like everyone else. We have many challenges and that is what we want to focus on.''

Wojciech Szczesny was also at a loss to explain the Gunners' poor form.

"It's good for us we have a Champions League game three days after [the Swansea defeat] and we have something to focus on," said the Polish goalkeeper. "We were obviously frustrated and disappointed after the game but now it's about Olympiakos and we will do our best to move on.

"The players give 100% in training and on a Saturday afternoon. I didn't say the players didn't want it enough. I'm definitely surprised by our position in the league. When you look at the quality of our players we should be fighting for the league.

"We have one of the best teams in the league, but it's our responsibility to put things right. What's gone wrong? That's not for me to say."

Arsenal were linked with a move for Chelsea's Frank Lampard in the January transfer window, and while he would not comment on that specific rumour he did suggest new faces could arrive.

"We are today at December 3. Until January 1 we have many big games," he said. "What happens in January we'll see. At the moment our focus is on a period of competition. If we need to do something in January we'll do it.

"We have many challenges before then and when the transfer market opens we'll see what we do - if we do anything. We are in the country of Socrates. He said: 'I know that I know nothing', and that is a bit like football.''

Wenger also claimed the club are 'in fantastic shape', despite a riding a tide of protest against his faltering team, and believes the protests of the Arsenal fans are not affecting his players.

"It's not affecting the players," he told the club's official website. "I believe intelligence in life is to focus on what's important, and what is important is the way we play football. The rest, you deal with it.

"Let's not forget that when people have to say something, it's important that they can do it and we are very open to that. But as well, they do not always necessarily represent the majority. This club is in fantastic shape. We have a good team, we have a strong structure of the club that we have built over the years, we are in a strong financial situation and we are mentally strong.

"I can understand that not everybody is pleased about that, but that is a fact. That's why we have to continue to behave like we do."

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