Arsene Wenger insisted he can still “turn things around” at Arsenal despite admitting that the team’s top-four hopes are over after Sunday’s 2-1 loss at Brighton.
Arsenal fell to their fourth-straight loss in all competitions to heap more pressure on their under-fire manager, whose future is in serious doubt after 22 years at the club.
The defeat leaves the Gunners 13 points off fourth place with just nine games to go, and needing a good result in Thursday’s Europa League game at AC Milan to keep any hopes alive of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
It was Arsenal’s eighth loss in total in 2018, with large sections of the away fans chanting “We want Wenger out” during the game. But the Frenchman himself still maintained he’s the right man for the job despite the poor form.
“Yes it’s the first time it happens in my whole career [losing so many games], I must say, and it’s not easy. But I have enough experience and enough desire to turn things around,” Wenger told Sky Sports. “And I believe as well at the moment, when we need to stay in the game we make individual mistakes at the wrong moments.
“And when a team struggles a bit for confidence it’s even more difficult. We have to stick together; we have no other solution.”
Wenger also added “there is no uncertainty” surrounding his own position — indicating he fully expects to be allowed to see out the season.
Last season, Arsenal finished outside the top four for the first time in Wenger’s career and he admitted that any chance of avoiding a repeat of that failure is now gone.
“You can say that yes, I think it had already gone before [the Brighton game],” he said. “Mathematically, with five teams in front of us, you need two to collapse. With such a number of games to go it’s very difficult to think it will happen.”
Wenger also blamed “heavy legs” for Arsenal’s poor first-half performance, as they went 2-0 down within 30 minutes after goals from Lewis Dunk and Glenn Murray. This latest loss came after successive 3-0 defeats to Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final last weekend and in the league on Thursday.
“They started strong, we were caught cold. And after in the second half, I felt we responded very well with big desire, but we couldn’t get the goal that got us at least a point,” Wenger said.
“Yes, [confidence] was missing, you could see that. We played Sunday at Wembley, Thursday night a big game again, and today early morning, so it was I think a combination of yes, a lack of confidence, but as well a bit heavy legs.”
Mattias is ESPN FC’s Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.