Arsene Wenger has called upon Arsenal fans to keep their faith in his vision to bring sustained success to the Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners head into tomorrow’s showdown with Barclays Premier League title rivals Chelsea looking to bounce back from their 3-1 home demolition by champions Manchester United last weekend.
In the wake of another below-par display against one of their direct title rivals, some supporters groups have started to question whether Wenger’s unwavering belief in developing the promise of youth rather than spending big will ever yield the silverware they crave.
However, Wenger – who has transformed the fortunes of the club since he arrived at the Gunners more than a decade ago, but last won a trophy in 2005 – remains steadfast in the belief his team’s time will come.
“I do not understand that too much, because we are six points off the leader, with 14 games to go, we are in a strong position, and we are qualified in the Champions League,” said the Arsenal manager when reflecting on the voices of discontent among the Gunners faithful.
“We are in a very healthy financial situation, we have a very young team compared to all the others.
“You can always be pessimistic, or you can always be optimistic – but if you analyse our situation realistically, you have many reasons to be optimistic.
“Don’t forget the other clubs in England are big as well. They invest more money than we do, and we are still there.”
Despite being outclassed by United, Arsenal could still move to within three points of Chelsea after what would be a second successive league win at Stamford Bridge.
However, defeat would leave the Gunners all but out of serious contention. Nevertheless, after seeing his side claw back a similar deficit after they were outmuscled by Carlo Ancelotti’s men in front of their own fans at the end of November, Wenger remains defiant.
“Of course, the result on Sunday will have an importance, but it won’t be over,” the Arsenal manager insisted.
“We will fight until the last second of the season because you can see that everybody drops points. At the end of the day it could be down to the team which believes more than the others.”
Wenger was exasperated by the timid manner of last weekend’s capitulation to United and is determined a similar abject display will not follow at Stamford Bridge.
The Arsenal boss added: “The most important is that we don’t come out of the game with a feeling that we didn’t really have a go at them.
“I believe that if we play at our level, at our best, we will beat them. It is as simple as that.”
Midfielder Alex Song made his return from African Nations Cup duty against United and the Cameroon international, who had impressed in the holding role alongside captain Cesc Fabregas, maintains the players are determined to show their true potential tomorrow.
“Manchester United was very disappointing. We did not manage the game very well. We have learned, and just have to keep going,” Song told Arsenal TV Online.
“We know the Chelsea game is the last chance we have, and we do not want to miss it. You can see in training that everyone wants to do their best, and that is positive ahead of the game at Chelsea.
“We will give everything and then no one can have any regrets at the end of the season.”
Song added: “We have learned from the Manchester United game, and we all know now what the boss wants us to do.
“If we missed something, we have to learn and improve for the next game – we are ready for the fight.”
Irish Examiner live news app for smartphones lets you quickly access breaking news, sport, business, entertainment and weather.
Irish Examiner ePaper app gives you the entire newspaper delivered to your phone or tablet for as little as 55c a day.
The Department of Education has been criticised by Children's Ombudsman Emily Logan over enrolment appeals and home tuition after a teenager missed nearly two years of full-time education when up to 30 schools refused him a place.
SINGER PAUL CLEARY doesn't have butterflies — yet. But he will. "I'm not a confident performer," say Cleary, frontman of iconic Dublin post-punk trio, The Blades. "The 20 minutes before I go on are particularly nerve-wracking. You can't function properly. You are sitting in the dressing room, not talking. You just want to get out there, on stage."
Supported by the Arts Council, Cork City Council, and the Firkin Crane, Laura Murphy is Cork's Dancer in Residence at Firkin Crane for 2013/2014. Originally from Kinsale, this highly-qualified dance artist, performer and choreographer is bubbling over with ideas.
Contrary to the minority, it was indeed a year of progress for the Cork hurlers; a first championship victory over Kilkenny since 2004, the unearthing of new talent in Séamus Harnedy and an end to their seven-year absence from the September showpiece.