Wenger: Abuse does not cause me any worries

Ross McLean
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Arsene Wenger has led Arsenal to the knockout stage for the 15th consecutive season
ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger insists the stream of abuse he is receiving from a section of the club’s supporters is not causing him undue concern as his side prepare to face Champions League Group D basement outfit Galatasaray tonight.

The Gunners head into the clash on the back of a deflating 3-2 defeat to Stoke City on Saturday, their third Premier League reverse in five matches and a loss which has exposed his team’s defensive frailties.

Wenger was jeered by Arsenal supporters as he boarded the train back to London while a banner was unfurled during their match against West Brom calling for the Frenchman to resign.

But the 65-year-old, who ended the club’s nine-year trophy drought with victory in last season’s FA Cup final against Hull City, is adamant such dissent is simply a cross he has to bear but insists now is not the time to be judged.

“No, not at all [the abuse wearing him down],” said Wenger. “We are professional footballers. What is important is the next game and the desire to do it.

“I am a competitive person. What is important is the next game and responding in a strong way, to play to win the game. It is part of our job here, you cannot always look for excuses. We are down. Everyone feels it.

“When you have a disappointment you respond in a strong way, that is what competition is about. You cannot as well say there is a guarantee to anybody you will never lose a game. Many teams lose at Stoke, you have to be realistic as well.

“We want to be judged at the end of the season, not after every single game where it is normal that emotion is always very high, so let us get our stability back defensively and see at the end of the season where we are.” Arsenal are already safely through to the Champions League knockout phase for the 15th consecutive season although top spot in Group D remains a matter to be resolved.

Bundesliga strugglers Borussia Dortmund are two points clear of second-placed Arsenal and winning the group would see Arsenal avoid European heavyweights such as Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in the draw for the last 16.

Wenger, however, who yesterday dismissed reports that midfielder Jack Wilshere has suffered a setback in his recovery from ankle surgery, has already named what looks an experimental line-up after leaving a raft of senior players at home.

France full-back Mathieu Debuchy is set to start after a three-month injury lay-off and keeper Wojciech Szczesny is also earmarked for a return, while strikers Lukas Podolski, Yaya Sanogo and Joel Campbell look set to form a three-pronged attack.

“To make it as simple as possible, I have 11 experienced and six young outfield players on the bench, that means I have nothing to hide,” added Wenger.

“The players who needed it stayed behind, like Cazorla, Sanchez, Gibbs and Welbeck, who could have travelled but had a little knee problem, so took advantage of that to rest him.

“Sanchez had a groin problem for some time, and he has played 27 games, it is more just the number of repetitive games we have.”