Arsenal’s Champions League qualification hopes have taken a drastic nosedive after a spate of torrid domestic performances, and on top of tepid results in cup competitions at both home and in Europe, Arsene Wenger has urged his wounded stars not to ‘forget’ their underlying quality and to not be fazed by the prospect of failure.
The Gunners were dismantled by Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday at the Amex, a limp 2-1 defeat which stranded the north-Londoners in their bid for elite continental football, and after a crushing 3-0 defeat against Manchester City at the Emirates prior their wasted trip to the south coast, Wenger’s men are now subsequently 6th in the standings and 13 points off 4th-placed Tottenham Hotspur.
Realistically, if Arsenal are to return to the Champions League, they’ll have to claim the Europa League title, although they’ll have their resources tested by Serie A giants AC Milan on Thursday at the San Siro, a round-of-16 first-leg encounter which is undoubtedly the pick of the tournament.
Wenger silenced the boo-boys last term after an adverse spell by securing Arsenal’s third FA Cup in four years, and the decorated French boss believes that his straggling contingent have what it takes to pull themselves out of the sticky patch they find themselves wallowing in.
“It makes me think a little bit about last year,” he admitted to the media, via a report published by Evening Standard. “Last year with the FA Cup, we made 75 points in the League and missed the Champions League by one point only.
“75 points is still a very good score what we will not reach this season. This is an opportunity we have to take, yes, of course. It increases the pressure on it even more on this competition.
“At the moment, it is certainly difficult when you go through a patch like that but I believe as well it is a good opportunity to show you have the quality and the strengths.
“You can only show that when it is difficult. It is a good opportunity to show we can deal with that and as well, on the longer term, it will make the team even stronger.
“The players are a bit affected by what happens because the players want to win. In life, you forget quickly how good you are.
“When you have a bad week, players change their mind about their own quality.
“We have not to forget we are good football players. But as well to fix reachable targets.
“Be practical, pragmatic – focus on what you can do better and analyse well what you didn’t do well and not be scared too much about the consequences of a bad result.
“Focus on defending better, playing quicker and doing more things together. Reachable targets to improve the team.”