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Dec 4, 2012

Wenger: Arsenal in fantastic shape

Embattled Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has claimed his club are 'in fantastic shape', despite a riding tide of protest against his faltering team.

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The Gunners' boss finds himself under pressure after the worst start to a Premier League campaign during his tenure. Amid reports of dressing room unrest following Arsenal's 2-0 defeat to Swansea at the weekend, Wenger insists there is "no crisis".

"It is fashionable to have a go at Arsenal but this club is in fantastic shape," Wenger said. "We have a good team and a strong structure we have built over the years. We are in a strong financial situation and we are mentally strong. I understand not everybody is pleased about that - but it's a fact."

Wenger, who has opted to rest a number of his senior players for the Gunners' Champions League trip to Olympiakos, admits that a 15-point gap behind Premier League leaders Manchester United is a sizeable one, but says it must all be taken with a pinch of salt.

He said: "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.

"You should look a little bit at the statistics and not only read the newspapers. 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 Swansea defeat]. That the players are not happy after the game, do you want them to do a dance after we lost? 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."

Speaking to the Arsenal website, Wenger has claimed the protests of the Arsenal fans are not affecting his players as he prepares to field an under-strength team in Greece.

"It's not affecting the players," he claims of the protests. "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."

Wenger went on to launch a passionate defence of his current squad, insisting they will resolve their woes sooner rather than later.

"There's a problem of course," he conceded. "What is important when you have a problem is to do something about it.

"The second thing is the strength to do something about it, and I'm confident we have both. We have the strength and we will do something about it.

"I believe we must develop the quality of our game and continue to play better, but let's not go overboard. Every period is difficult, in every game you focus to get the best out of your team.

"We lost on Saturday and of course we are not happy with that, but I am confident that we have a strong team, that we have a strong spirit in the side, and that will come out.

"We have rebuilt the team a little bit, in two ways - first in bringing in new players, secondly in getting some players back from a long-term injury, like Jack Wilshere. I feel there is a lot of strength in our team.

"Patience and keeping our mental strength will turn that around in an easy way. "We have analysed the Swansea game, watched the game and, if you look at the results over the weekend, it is difficult for everybody in the Premier League.

"I believe what is important is to play our football, improve the way we play and keep faith in our players. At the moment, that is very important to me. If you look at people's reaction, everything is dramatic. What is important is to be capable to play football."

Meanwhile, Wenger has refused to be drawn on reports that he is planning a shock January move for Chelsea legend Frank Lampard.

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