Arsene Wenger worried by Arsenal’s stay-away fans; says frustration ‘understandable’

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March 11, 2018 6:53 pm Published by

LONDON — Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger voiced concerns about fan apathy after thousands of seats at the Emirates remained empty in Sunday’s 3-0 win over Watford.

The victory followed the 2-0 Europa League win at AC Milan on Thursday, which came after one of the most difficult spells of Wenger’s tenure as a Carabao Cup final defeat to Manchester City was followed by league losses to both City and Brighton.

His Arsenal future seems to hinge on winning the Europa League to secure Champions League football, and many fans appear to have given up on the Premier League campaign.

Around one-third of the seats were empty against Watford as thousands of season ticket holders vented their frustration by staying away.

“Yes of course I worry because I want our fans to be behind the team and to be happy,” Wenger said.

“But after what happened in that week, it’s a bit understandable. We are in a job where we have to get the fans on our side and do absolutely everything to do it, to achieve it. And that’s what we want to do.”

The manager said he was delighted by the victory over the Hornets, which he believed would lift the mood.

“Overall it gets us out of that negative spirit that we were in,” he said. “We had a nightmare week.

“We have still some work to do, but we are on a good way.

“There’s a lot of negativity. It’s like rain in England — it’s easy to get. I don’t know how much negativity is out there, I focus on my job.

“I think I’ve shown in 22 years that I can do that, and that I respect everybody’s opinion and I focus on my job with total commitment.”

Petr Cech became the first goalkeeper to keep 200 Premier League clean sheets, while Mesut Ozil became the quickest to reach 50 Premier League assists and Arsenal scored their 1,000th home Premier League goal when Shkodran Mustafi opened the scoring.

Cech saved his first penalty for Arsenal when he stopped Troy Deeney’s kick in the second half — sweet revenge for Arsenal following the striker’s taunts that the Gunners had lacked “cojones” in defeat at Vicarage Road in October.

“It’s quite fortunate that it’s against Deeney,” Wenger said, adding that his players had been keen to send a message to the striker.

“You cannot be a football player without pride, or any sportsman without pride,” he said. “These things always come into it a little bit. How much I don’t know, but it plays a part.”

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