Wenger vows to revive club's fortunes

Arsenal are enduring a disruptive January transfer window, with the swop deal involving Alexis Sanchez and Manchester United’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan yet to be settled.
Arsenal are enduring a disruptive January transfer window, with the swop deal involving Alexis Sanchez and Manchester United’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan yet to be settled.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Arsene Wenger insisted Arsenal's turbulent January has not affected his desire to remain in charge of the troubled Premier League club beyond this season.

His side host Crystal Palace in the league today in poor form amid an Alexis Sanchez transfer saga.

Since beating Palace on Dec 28, Arsenal have taken just two points from three league games to leave them eight points behind fourth-placed Chelsea in the fight to qualify for the Champions League.

The Gunners also suffered an embarrassing FA Cup defeat by Championship side Nottingham Forest earlier this month.

Wenger's problems have thrust his future into the spotlight, with fans once again calling for the Frenchman to resign after 14 years without a league title.

But he has vowed to revive Arsenal's fortunes and, asked this week if this could be his final season, he replied: "No, that's not the way I respond. I agree completely that 2018 until now has not been very positive but I am long enough in the job to know that what is important is how we respond to it and to focus on the performance.

"We have many challenges, it is difficult at the moment, but as well very exciting because we have many challenges in front of us and we can come back in the Champions League."

Wenger, whose contract at the Emirates Stadium expires next year, admitted that the club are enduring their most unsettling January transfer window, with Sanchez yet to seal his move to Manchester United and Henrikh Mkhitaryan going the other direction.

The Gunners are also linked with Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and West Bromwich Albion defender Jonny Evans, while they just sold Theo Walcott to Everton.

"We have to very quickly get over this transfer period because for us especially this period has been more disturbing than ever," said Wenger, whose side have won one of their last four games at the Emirates after winning the previous 12.

"Why? Because we have big players that are at the end of their contract and that is the first time that it happens, that we have such influential players close to the end of their contracts and it has been more destabilising than ever."

Despite Arsenal's woes, Palace boss Roy Hodgson believes the vilification of Wenger is unjustified.

He ranks Wenger alongside former United manager Alex Ferguson as one of the greatest bosses in English football history.

"I think there are managers like Arsene who deserve the utmost respect because of what he's done in the game of football, not least here in England," Hodgson said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE


ARSENAL V CRYSTAL PALACE

Singtel TV Ch103 & StarHub Ch228, 11pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 20, 2018, with the headline 'Wenger vows to revive club's fortunes'. Print Edition | Subscribe