Arsenal news

Wenger: Fans pleased with fight

April 22, 2013
By Kevin Palmer

Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal supporters will be satisfied with the fighting qualities being shown by his side, despite their failure to challenge for silverware this season.

Premier League
PA PhotosA 16th successive Champions League finish is now in Arsene Wenger's own hands

Arsenal are on course to claim what Wenger describes as his 'basic target' by qualifying for a 16th successive season of Champions League football and he has insisted the fans will be duly compensated by setbacks earlier this season if they win their last four games and snare a top-four finish.

"The fans see that the team fights," he told the club's official website. "Even when we don't play absolutely outstandingly, we fight. That's what the fans want. Your fans want to be proud of the team. They love the club and of course want the players to act exactly the same."

Wenger's players threw their shirts into the crowd following Saturday's 1-0 win against Fulham as a gesture of thanks for the support they have been given in recent weeks and now the Arsenal boss is urging his players to maintain their fine form going into Sunday's game against Manchester United.

"The character in the team is fantastic and we knew that one point was not enough for us [at Fulham]," he stressed. "When the ball was in the box in the last five minutes we always [used to] concede a goal and now we don't. That means that the resilience is there and the team has learnt."

Meanwhile, Wenger has hinted he will stick with his centre-back pairing of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker for the United game next weekend, meaning club captain Thomas Vermaelen will continue his stay on the substitutes' bench.

"They've done well, I must say," he added of the pair. "Vermaelen had a very good game against Norwich but we were on a run of good results and good stability and we don't concede goals at the moment so that's why I keep them [Koscielny and Mertesacker] together.

"It's a very difficult decision. Thomas is one of the best defenders in England, like the two others. I told them at the start of the season we have three outstanding central defenders.

"It's about game by game that I make a decision and it is about partnerships as well. Vermaelen has been a substitute for quite a few games and he still plays a big part in the game. Koscielny was a long, long time during the season in that position and that can change very quickly."