Reading manager Brian McDermott has rejected the suggestion Arsenal are a club in crisis and predicted they will still finish in the top four of the Premier League.
The Gunners head to the Madejski Stadium tonight reeling from their Capital One Cup quarter-final defeat by League Two Bradford, a moment that has been described as the lowest point of Arsene Wenger’s 16-year reign.
It has been a difficult season for Wenger, who now finds himself in the unprecedented position of being the third favourite to become the next Premier League manager to lose his job. But McDermott, who leads the sack race, believes Arsenal remain in safe hands with the Frenchman in charge.
“Arsene has been there for a long time and it is a stable club. I don’t look at a situation in football as being a crisis,” he said.
“Arsenal are a massive club and well run financially. They are a terrific institution. I can’t see them being in crisis.
“They generally come good at the back end of the season. They always make the Champions League and I wouldn’t back against them finishing in the top four.
“Arsene himself is always being asked why they haven’t won a trophy for seven years.
“I am sure he is fed up with it and I understand the fans’ frustrations. But Arsene will want to win trophies more than anyone.”
Victory tonight is essential for both teams with Reading seeking to begin their climb out of the relegation zone following five successive defeats.
Four of those were on the road, however, and with three of the next four being staged at home, McDermott knows his team are entering a critical period.
“At one point last season we had five defeats and we’re determined to turn it around,” he said. “We want to get out on the pitch and perform again. We just need a result for it to change.
“We’re playing at home which is massively important for us. We have home games coming up which is important because the Madejski will be integral to where we end up.”
For his part, Arsene Wenger has challenged his Arsenal squad to dig deep tonight.
Despite their inconsistencies, Arsenal remain within striking distance of the top four of the Premier League and could close the gap of fourth-placed Tottenham to two points with a win tonight.
Wenger accepts the atmosphere has been somewhat subdued at Arsenal’s Hertfordshire training base in recent days, but maintains it is now up to the players to show their strength of character.
“There has been disappointment and frustration [this week], but that is normal when you go out in a competition like that,” Wenger said.
“However, having said that, we can only look at ourselves, get on with it and look for the future.”
Gunners midfielder Santi Cazorla added: “We haven’t been consistent. We are hoping to make up some ground.”
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