Football: Bellerin defends embattled Wenger

ENGLAND (REUTERS) - Arsenal right-back Hector Bellerin has leapt to the defence of manager Arsene Wenger after the side crashed out at the last-16 stage of the Champions League for a seventh straight season with a humbling 10-2 aggregate defeat by Bayern Munich.

Criticism of Wenger has grown more vociferous this week following Tuesday's 5-1 second leg home mauling and a run of three defeats in four Premier League games that has seen the club drop outside the top four.

"Of course," Bellerin told British media when asked whether he wanted Wenger to be in charge of the club next season.

"It's as simple as that, especially for me. He's the one who gave me my chance since day one."

Wenger, who is out of contract at the end of the season, gave the strongest hint yet that he could end his near 21-year reign at Arsenal when he recently said he would definitely manage next season but was uncertain of where.

"We all back him and of course we want him to stay. The whole team is behind the manager," Bellerin added.

"He's played a big part in making me the player that I am, and there are loads of players in the dressing room who will be in the same position as me."

Wenger is the most successful manager in FA Cup history with six victories and Arsenal have the perfect chance to erase their painful Champions League exit in Saturday's quarter-final against fifth-tier Lincoln City.

"We only have to look at ourselves to do something. We need to just forget tonight, focus on the next game and a competition that the club usually does well in," Bellerin added.