Arsene says our frustrating pocket Russian still deserves to drink freely from the milk of human kindness.
And who could argue with that…
Arsène Wenger has told Arsenal fans to show some respect to Andrey Arshavin after the midfielder was booed when he came on for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the 2-1 league defeat by Manchester United last week.
Wenger, whose side have lost three of their last five league games, backed the under-fire Russian, who has been vilified by some fans for his inconsistent form this season.
He said: “At the moment we play a little bit under difficult circumstances but we have to realise that we have to support our players. I personally have a huge respect for Andrey Arshavin and if you would see him behave every day you would have one as well. I understand everybody’s frustrations because I’m quite tolerant – but there is still a difference between frustration and lack of respect.
“I am here to make all of the fans happy and when I do not manage to do it I am, of course, not happy. But what is most important is that we have our fans happy at the end of the season.”
With the Russian transfer window still open Wenger was asked if there is a chance Arshavin may still leave for a club in his homeland. “For me, no,” he said. Pressed if anyone else has a say in that decision, Wenger said: “Andrey Arshavin.” Has the playmaker, then, intimated that he wants to leave? “No.”
Arshavin will captain Russia at Euro 2012 but Wenger does not think he will leave to get regular football ahead of the tournament. “Things can change quickly – villain today, hero tomorrow, it is like that nowadays. But when you are a good football player like he is you can always come back,” the Frenchman said.
Wenger is also facing a demonstration at the Emirates on Saturday when Arsenal play Blackburn Rovers from disgruntled fans who plan to place bin bags over empty seats to highlight falling attendances.
But Wenger said: “I would not like to make any comment on that. I feel we have to be above that and show our quality on the football pitch and not respond to every individual provocation.”
Under Wenger Arsenal have qualified for the Champions League in every season since he took over in September 1996. He has drawn criticism for his financial prudence in the transfer market and, asked if he might spend big if Arsenal fail to finish in the top four, Wenger said: “We’ll make that analysis at the end of the season.”
Is the target now to avoid defeat until the end of the season? “Unbeaten, certainly, ideally you want to be unbeaten,” he said. “Is it possible? To prove that it is possible is just to win on Saturday. For the rest, I believe that we have played some great football this season and we have to continue to improve the way we play and focus on that. Football has to be a happy moment that you want to share with people who come to the game. We always try to behave like that.
“I believe we played 15 years on the trot in the Champions League and we play in 10 days in the last 16 of the Champions League. We want to come back in the Champions League position in the league, we want to prepare properly for the next round of the FA Cup and I wish that in the next 16 years it will be exactly the same for the club and that the fans will be happy. After that what can I say? Ideally I want everybody to be completely happy and over the moon but we live in a world where you have to accept that not everybody reacts the same.”
While Wenger said he may rotate against Blackburn, Oxlade-Chamberlain’s participation is in doubt: “We have a little problem that we have to check today because his knee jarred a little bit and we will see how he has recovered from it. All of the other players look all right.”
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