LONDON, March 1 – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on Tuesday labelled criticism of his team’s faltering Premier League title challenge “excessive” and “too emotional”.
Sunday’s 3-2 defeat at injury-ravaged Manchester United left Arsenal five points below league leaders Leicester City, compromising the London club’s chances of ending their 12-year wait for the title.
Media pundits rounded on Arsenal afterwards, former Liverpool manager Graeme Souness branding them “weak and insipid” and ex-Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson saying Wenger should leave if they do not win the league.
“I’m never surprised by the criticism that comes,” Wenger told a press conference ahead of his side’s home game with Swansea City on Wednesday.
“That’s part of the media today. Part of the opinion is always a bit excessive and emotional, but we have to deal with that and I don’t complain about it.
“I don’t want to respond to individual criticism. People are a bit too emotional and we want to put things into perspective by analysing things a bit more in a neutral way.
“This club is respected all over the world despite what people say. Everybody has freedom of opinion and I enjoy very much that people care about my future. I thank them for that.
“Apart from that, in my life, I have always taken care of myself and my future.”
Arsenal face second-place Tottenham Hotspur in the north London derby at the weekend and Wenger wants his side to use Swansea’s visit as a springboard for what could prove a pivotal game in the title race.
“That’s what we want to do,” he said. “We want to transform the negatives into positives around us and create even more solidarity.
“Let’s not go overboard. We do not play to be relegated. We are playing to fight for the title. That’s why we have to put criticism in the right place.”
Wenger also revealed that England international midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could be sidelined for as long as two months by a knee injury sustained in the recent Champions League loss to Barcelona.
Wenger gave the estimated timescale for the 22-year-old’s recovery as “six to eight weeks”.
“No surgery,” he added. “We feared surgery at some stage before we saw the MRI (scan). In the end we got, on that front, positive news.
“The next eight weeks means March and April. He should be OK for the European Championship.”