Wenger vs Match of the Day as Arsenal prepare for big games
'I don't need someone to tell me how well we play,' says Gunners boss ahead of Hull clash
A BULLISH Arsene Wenger has attacked Match of the Day's panel of under-fire pundits for writing off Arsenal's title chances. The BBC's football show has consistently dismissed the Gunners as serious title contenders with so-called experts Alan Hansen, Alan Shearer and Danny Murphy all claiming at various times this season that the Premier League leaders won't be top come May.
On the eve of Arsenal's clash with Hull, Wenger was asked what he thought of the programme and if he paid any attention to the pundits' predictions. "Sometimes I watch it, sometimes not," he shrugged. "Sometimes it's just someone saying their opinion without an argument on something. That can make sense. But if it's something based on hate or love... he [the pundit] doesn't sustain his opinion."
Wenger has claimed in the past that criticism of his players is all water off a duck's back, but judging from his comments on Tuesday some of Hansen's remarks have hit home. He referred to analysis of the Gunners' win at Crystal Palace in October, when Hansen had some harsh words to say about the Arsenal defence and how they were hit on the counter-attack.
"We were caught on the counter from a corner," admitted Wenger, explaining that during one attack full back Kieran Gibbs had been lured out of position, and that in turn had led to Mikel Arteta being sent off. But he added: "I have enough experience to analyse what we do and how well we play. I don't need someone else to tell me."
Not that Wenger should pay too much attention to former Liverpool stalwart Hansen, after all this is the man who famously said of Manchester United's young side at the start of the 1995-96 season: "You can't win anything with kids". United went on to win the League and Cup double.
Victory against Hull tonight will ensure the Gunners remain at least four points clear of their nearest rivals going into the weekend but Wenger will be without right-back Bacary Sagna, nursing a hamstring strain, and it's rumoured he might rest Mesut Ozil as Arsenal enter a hectic run of games.
On Sunday Arsenal host Everton before travelling to Italy next Wednesday for their crucial Champions League encounter with Napoli. Then it's back to England and a trip the following Saturday to the Etihad to face Manchester City. That takes the Gunners into the Christmas season which kicks off with a huge game against Chelsea on 23 December.
"It's a bit early to make a prediction on the title," Wenger replied when asked about staying the course in the Premier League. "If we can maintain our concentration, we have a chance."
Wenger's most immediate concern is Hull, who travel to London still buzzing after their weekend win over Liverpool, a result that did Arsenal a big favour. "We have a warning from the Liverpool game," said the Frenchman. "Hull have done very well and they have nothing to lose when they come to us." ·