Football: Wenger Ready For Do Or Die United Showdown
Posted November 6, 2008on:
LONDON – Arsene Wenger admits Arsenal face a do or die showdown against Manchester United on Saturday as his spluttering side try to keep their Premier League title hopes alive.
After failing to win their last two league matches against Tottenham and Stoke, Wenger’s men trail leaders Chelsea by six points and desperately need a victory at the Emirates Stadium this weekend.
Defeats to Stoke, Hull and Fulham have left the Gunners playing catch-up in the league and the Arsenal boss knows a loss to bitter rivals United would leave their title challenge in tatters.
“I will not tell you that the game is not important. It is a massive game with a massive importance for us,” Wenger said.
“We play every three days at the moment and every game is massive.
“Manchester United versus Arsenal is always a special one but we know for us it is vital to do well in the big games now. I’m confident we will.”
Arsenal will go into the must-win clash on the back of a miserable run of three games without a victory after Wednesday’s frustrating goalless draw against Fenerbahce in the Champions League.
The psychological scars of their weekend battering at Stoke were clear to see as Arsenal wasted a series of chances to kill off the Turkish club and then grew flustered as they laboured to make a breakthrough.
Wenger had been furious with Stoke’s heavy-handed approach at the Britannia Stadium and labelled some of their players cowards in the build-up to Wednesday’s tie.
The French coach could face an FA probe into his comments but, speaking after the Fenerbahce draw, he claimed officials are victimising his team and insisted he was right to respond to Stoke goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen’s taunt that Arsenal are spineless.
Perhaps his anger was stirred by the sight of Mikael Silvestre suffering a suspected broken nose after an elbow from Fenerbahce’s Semih Senturk late in the second half.
“I responded to a statement made by a player from Stoke. I congratulated them for their victory but I just wanted to say you don’t have to be brave to tackle someone from behind,” Wenger said.
“I don’t know why I should regret that. I maintain that strongly. It is not bitterness after a defeat
.”Sometimes in England we feel ‘he didn’t fancy that’. Of course we didn’t fancy that because that is not football.
“You can look at the fairplay table. We are top of the table. We don’t have lessons from anyone on that.
“I am responsible for the behaviour of my team. Of course we are ready to battle but it depends what you mean by battle?
“We make less fouls than anyone and receive more fouls than anyone. Look at the team that makes less fouls. It is Arsenal. Who gets more yellow cards after four or five fouls? Us.
“Some teams get their first yellow card after 15 fouls. I cannot read the rulebook or something is wrong.”
Arsenal could just about afford to watch Robin van Persie miss several chances to beat Fenerbahce because they should still qualify from Group G with a win over Dynamo Kiev in their next match.
The Turks however realistically needed a win to keep their slim hopes alive, although their coach Luis Aragones is adamant they can still go through.
“You always have a chance in football,” he said.
“We are going to work hard to turn this around and qualify. You can’t say anything is over and done with.”
We want to win in the Champions League against other good teams. That is always our aim.
“We had plans to score against Arsenal but we had a quick attacking team in front of us. If we had been quicker on the counter attack we could have done better things.” – AFP/vm
Channel News Asia