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Feb 19, 2013

Wilshere: Slump not Wenger's fault

Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere rushed to the defence of beleaguered manager Arsene Wenger after Bayern Munich took a giant step towards the Champions League quarter-finals with a 3-1 win at the Emirates Stadium.

• Mangan: Bayern too good

Gunners boss Wenger had shown real signs of tension following Saturday's FA Cup defeat at the hands of Blackburn, and this latest defeat will increase the pressure on the Frenchman.

Yet Wilshere insisted the players, not the manager, are to blame for Arsenal's slump in form and claimed the questions surrounding Wenger were unjustified.

"I don't think this is anything to do with the manager," he told ITV Sport. "He puts us on the pitch - it's up to us to perform and do the best we can every week.

"He can motivate us, and it is up to us to do the best we can on the pitch.

"The players will take responsibility. We are man enough to take it, but the boss has been here for 16 years and he has done a great job. I don't think you can question him. We move on to the weekend and have to try and take it from there."

Wilshere admitted Arsenal's latest failure to start a high-profile game on the front foot had cost them dear again, hinting that pre-match nerves could be to blame for their persistent failure to perform at their best in the opening 45 minutes of matches this season.

"I don't know why we had a slow start again," he said. "Maybe it was a bit of nerves, a bit of anxiety - I don't know. We show what we can do when we play, so we will have to look at it and try and learn from this.

"We didn't start great, and against good teams you get punished. In the second half we stepped it up, got one back and could have got a second goal with [Olivier] Giroud, but their keeper pulled off a good save.

"There is always a chance for us at their place. We are not out of this tie. We have the players to do it, but we have to start games better."

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