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Sep 21, 2011

Woodcock worried about Arsenal

Former Arsenal striker Tony Woodcock does not feel sacking Arsene Wenger would solve the club's problems but is concerned as to how the Gunners will respond with their backs against the wall.

• Wenger focused on Arsenal job
• Arsene ignores coaching question

Arsenal boss Wenger has come under heavy pressure in the wake of the side's worst start to a season in 58 years, the club's woes having been exacerbated after they threw away a 2-1 lead at Blackburn last Saturday to lose 4-3 courtesy of two own goals conceded.

Woodcock, who scored 68 goals in 169 matches for Arsenal, told ESPNsoccernet: "You have to look at the bigger picture, at what Arsene Wenger has done for Arsenal in terms of the club's infrastructure, the new stadium, financial stability, its academy, its training ground facilities and the way he has nurtured such young talent and transformed them into world-class performers.

"The call for Wenger to go might be something you would expect when fans become so frustrated, even angry, but finding a new manager is not the solution, because who would you turn to?

"Think about that for a moment and it makes you think more carefully, and wonder whether the man you think would be an instant hit might not actually be anywhere near as good as the man the club already have.

"Having said all that, there is concern, which I have felt for the past two seasons, about the mental strength of the players. When you have the chance of the title, as Arsenal have done in the past two years, with just half a dozen games to go, but have wilted under that intensity of pressure, you have to raise questions.

"Of course everyone is raising those questions now, but it has perturbed me that the players have not had the mental strength, or perhaps something far more basic, to finish off the job for two years now.

"I have questioned the players on their desire, their determination, their will to win, and if those concerns surfaced for two years then I would seriously question whether they possess that will now that the chips are down in fighting their way out of trouble.

"If they couldn't find that little extra when a major trophy like the title was within their sights, within their grasp, can they find that desire when the going is tough as it is now?"

Woodcock concluded: "We've seen over the years that clubs can go down that are not expected to. It's early days, only a few games. We've gone six years without winning anything and are now in this tricky situation. I'm hoping it's going to be a bit of a kick up the backside for everyone."

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