Arsene Wenger insists Arsenal’s fans did not make a “major statement” with their angry reaction to Wednesday’s defeat to Swansea and believes his players are ready to bounce back against title rivals Tottenham.
The Gunners succumbed to a potentially damaging 2-1 loss to the Swans, which saw them miss out on a chance to close in on Barclays Premier League leaders Leicester.
Wenger saw his decision to replace Joel Campbell jeered by the discontent home faithful inside the Emirates Stadium, with more boos heard at the final whistle.
Ahead of Saturday’s crunch north London derby at Spurs, former Arsenal striker and record goalscorer Thierry Henry, who works as an academy coach at the club, said on Friday morning the Arsenal fans were as angry as he had ever seen during the game.
Wenger would not be drawn on what he thought of Henry’s comments and stated no supporters would be happy to see their team lose at home, with their furious reaction a normal act of frustration.
“I would like not to comment on that and I say to people what I think face-to-face,” he said when asked if Henry’s comments would make matters worse with restless fans.
“I don’t want to comment on that, it doesn’t help us to win tomorrow (at Spurs). Thierry Henry will not play tomorrow for Arsenal. His comments are like any other comments, they cannot help us to win, nor be an excuse to lose. We have to focus on ourselves.
“You cannot say they were never as angry as that. Who can measure that, who can compare that? Do you want your fans to be happy to lose a game? Where do you see that?
“So, it doesn’t look to me (like) a major statement. Our fans are unhappy, I am unhappy, we’re all unhappy and if you were in our dressing room after the game you would see that we are absolutely devastated to lose the game.
“The players, nobody moved for minutes and minutes. It’s normal. Why do you want people to be happy when you lose? It’s quite remarkable that you are shocked by statements like that.”
Wenger knows a victory over Spurs, not only their neighbours but now their title rivals, would help silence the boo-boys as he heads for the cauldron of noise the home fans at White Hart Lane are likely to produce on Saturday.
“We have to be immune to that,” he said of the expected hostile atmosphere of Wednesday.
“We are professional people. You cannot always say that we focus on our job and it’s then reverse. We have to provoke the positive reaction from the fans and that’s our job.
“It (the derby) will be passionate for sure because there is a lot at stake and it has always been like that.
“I think as well at White Hart Lane the fans are very close, the pitch is not too big. We have maybe more duels than usual in the game on the pitch and the pitch is quick as well so that makes for a very quick game.”
Asked if he liked the atmosphere at Spurs, Wenger simply replied: “I love it.”
He will love it even more if his side, without injured goalkeeper Petr Cech for up to a month and with defender Laurent Koscielny also ruled out, can get just their fourth win in 12 games to reignite their title tilt.
But Arsenal come up against a Spurs side who had put together a fine run of results until their own midweek stutter as they lost at West Ham to pass up an opportunity to go top of the table.
Wenger, though, believes the real test of their mettle starts now and reckons his own players are prepared.
“Look, I feel we are ready,” he said.
“They have made progress, yes. Now this is crunch time in the last 10 games and we will see. That’s why maybe everybody has a big interest in the game tomorrow.”