October 27, 2012
Wenger demands response from Gunners
Team Stat Comparison
|Arsenal||Queens Park Rangers|
|Goals for *||2.5||0.9|
|Goals against *||1.2||1.7|
|Last 5 home||W-D-D-W-W||L-L-L-D-W|
|Last 5 away||W-W-W-W-W||L-D-L-L-L|
|* Goals per match - home matches for home club and away matches for away club|
|Stats: Arsenal | Queens Park Rangers|
Manager Arsene Wenger felt his players "hit the wall'' in their back-to-back defeats over the past week but has challenged them to produce a response against struggling QPR.
The Gunners had impressed before the international break but then slumped to a 1-0 defeat at Norwich last Saturday which left them 10 points behind Barclays Premier League leaders Chelsea before putting on another lacklustre display against Schalke to lose top spot in Champions League Group B.
Those results contributed to a heated annual general meeting at the Emirates Stadium yesterday, where Wenger's address restored a sense of calm after chairman Peter Hill-Wood, chief executive Ivan Gazidis and majority shareholder Stan Kroenke were all heckled.
The Arsenal manager believes the players can quickly change the mood with a return to winning ways.
"At West Ham, we looked outstanding going forwards, dynamic and then suddenly had two flat performances. It is difficult to explain,'' said Wenger.
"We have hit the wall a little bit in the last two games, and just did not find our rhythm.
"But we have to just focus again on the quality of our game, the way we want to play, and not concede too much against who we play.
"With the quality (we have), the results will come back.''
Wenger continued: "We have to put what happened to us on Wednesday night into perspective - we know we were not at our best, but we have lost one game in 43 home European games. An accident like that can happen.
"We are still in a strong position in the Champions League, what is important for us now is to bounce back and have a good result in the Premier League.''
England midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is hopefully of overcoming the hip injury he suffered as a substitute at Norwich, but Kieran Gibbs (thigh) and Theo Walcott (chest) remain out.
Jack Wilshere could again be included in the squad as his rehabilitation from long-term injury continues, as could defender Bacary Sagna, who suffered a broken leg in May.
Wenger's side will still be the firm favourites against a QPR side who are yet to record an away league victory during Hughes' tenure.
Rangers boss Mark Hughes acknowledged that Arsenal have not had the best of weeks but is not expecting any favours on Saturday.
"They're a very good team, and they've had a couple of results that have knocked them back somewhat,'' he said.
"But it's their home game, and you'd expect them to come out and for their fans' benefit, put in a good performance because they've stepped away from their high standards in the last couple of games.
"We go there with the belief we can compete against any team in the Premier League. We've drawn with Chelsea, drawn with Everton and run Tottenham very close. We acquitted ourselves well for long periods against Manchester City.
"So we know we can go to the top sides and make a game of a difficult fixture, and we'll try and cause an upset, because I'm sure there aren't that many people expecting us to get a positive result. We'll go there with real belief.''
Hughes has had his fair share of run-ins with opposing bosses during his time in management but the former Manchester City boss is looking forward to facing a man he considers "an outstanding manager''.
"I don't think I've had any disagreements (with Wenger),'' he said. "I have maybe questioned how long he has thrown the ball back into play sometimes.
"I have the utmost respect for Arsene Wenger, he is a fantastic manager. Every time you go up against a top manager in the Premier League it is a huge test so I'm looking forward to the challenge of going up against one of the outstanding managers of our time.''