Lack of support at Emirates: Wenger

LONDON • Arsene Wenger has admitted that his team have had to play in "a very difficult climate" at the Emirates Stadium this season.

He also suggested that the mutinous atmosphere is being whipped up by a few egos with a personal agenda against him and actually has "not a lot behind it".

Three of Arsenal's supporters groups intend to protest at today's Premier League game against Norwich City, calling for a "Time for Change".

Fans from the Arsenal Supporters' Trust, the Black Scarf Movement and Red Action will hand out placards and urge the fans to hold them up after the 12th and 78th minutes and, in particular, after the final whistle, with their ire aimed at the hierarchy and the manager for the way the club is being run.

Wenger's side are currently fourth and attempting to deflect Manchester United's challenge at their back, with the Frenchman admitting his own exasperation at the fizzling out of their title challenge.

"It is very frustrating because we were in a position for a very long time where we could compete for the title..." he said.

"We lost the championship at home against the lower teams - we have the best record against the top clubs - but we played at home in a very difficult climate.

"This club does have special values though and one I've experienced over the years is to stick together and support the team. There's no success without that.

"But some groups of people try to manipulate our fans, and I believe apart from an agenda - a personal agenda, a big ego - there's not a lot behind it."

British journalist and television personality Piers Morgan, who has been vociferous in his criticisms of Wenger, immediately suggested on Twitter that the Arsenal manager was directing his criticism at him, though the Frenchman would not elaborate on whom he was commenting.

Wenger defended his team's "character and attitude", which have been questioned by former players now working as pundits.

"Some people question them," he said. "I know (the critics) well, and they have less character than this team have.

"I saw them play and I know them very closely, and they shouldn't question this team's character. Attitude-wise, we've been impeccable from the first to the last day.

"But when a club cannot enjoy anything any more, it's in trouble.

"In football you go down very quickly and come up very slowly. We have to stick together."

The odds remain in Arsenal's favour as they attempt to qualify for the Champions League for a 20th successive season under Wenger's guidance.

But the French manager concedes that record is under threat, and anything less than victory against a Norwich side currently occupying the third relegation place on goal difference will increase the pressure on his position.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

ARSENAL V NORWICH Ch102 & Ch227, tomorrow, 12.30am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 30, 2016, with the headline 'Lack of support at Emirates: Wenger'. Print Edition | Subscribe