Wednesday 20 April 2016 5:12 pm

Arsene Wenger accepts blame as supporter unrest leads to threat of 20,000 empty seats for West Brom match

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admits the collapse of his team’s title challenge could lead to a club record low attendance for a Premier League fixture when West Brom visit on Thursday evening.

The Gunners have been sucked into a now-traditional scrap for a Champions League place by a dismal run that has yielded just 18 points from 13 matches, including back-to-back draws with West Ham and Crystal Palace.

That has brought simmering supporter dissatisfaction back to boiling point and Wenger acknowledges that results will be partly to blame if, as expected, Emirates Stadium is only three quarters full.

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“Everybody is free to do what he wants with his season ticket – we have to live with that,” he said. “It’s a Thursday night, it’s unusual. We just had a disappointing result at home, maybe that plays a part as well. Is the disillusionment more pronounced? Maybe.

“I want our fans to be happy and when they are not, it affects me. You do not want to play in a negative environment. We are responsible for the performance of the team and it is true that, at the moment, it is not a highlight. I hope in the next years, Arsenal will always play in the top three and, hopefully, people won’t get disenchanted.”

The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust estimated this week that as many as 20,000 of the 60,000 seats may be empty for a match that could see Arsenal overtake third-placed Manchester City.

Midfielder Jack Wilshere is not ready to make his first appearance of the season following persistent ankle injuries but could return for Sunday’s trip to Sunderland.