Wenger has worst week in 12 years with Arsenal

April 18, 2008

LONDON, April 18 (Reuters) - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said on Friday he had suffered his worst week in nearly 12 years at the club after seeing his Premier League and Champions League challenges end just days apart.

Wenger, who took over at the north London club in September 1996, said he and his squad had felt shattered by Sunday's 2-1 defeat by Manchester United at Old Trafford, just five days after being eliminated from the Champions League by Liverpool.

The defeat at United ended Arsenal's realistic hopes of securing the title and winning a trophy this season. Wenger had predicted his team could win both the Premier League and Champions League.

'It has been very hard to take because we do not feel inferior to any other team,' he told a news conference.

Asked if it had been the worst week he had experienced during his time at Arsenal, he said: 'Yes, it is the lowest week I have had here in all this time.

'But now we want to show our strength and our commitment and we want to finish the season well ... We want to win tomorrow (Saturday) against Reading because we have not had that winning feeling for a while.'

Wenger said his players had worked exceptionally hard this season to gain some reward and the disappointment was understandable.

'It has been a year of hard work and we have worked harder than ever this year,' he said. 'There are still 12 points to go for and we can still get them and that would be good progress. We worked for everything this year.

'The progress we made this year stagnated really when it mattered most due to various circumstances. We have to gain that little bit that makes you into winners.'

Asked if he felt rivals and league leaders Manchester United were now the outstanding team in the country, he said: 'Yes, they are. But Man Utd are there on points, now, and what matters is if they are still there at the end of the year.'

Arsenal face Reading at home on Saturday, seeking their first win in five games this month and only their third win in 14 outings which has seen them slip from league leaders.

Wenger said his Spanish goalkeeper Manuel Almunia was out with a wrist injury and he would be replaced by German Jens Lehmann.