Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Future That Is Important - Not the Past; Arsene Puts Cup Loss Behind Him

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Future That Is Important - Not the Past; Arsene Puts Cup Loss Behind Him

Article excerpt

D EFIANT Arsene Wenger dismissed talk of divisions at Arsenal as "lies" - and backed his squad to make the critics eat their words.

Wenger is facing one of the toughest spells of his 16 years at the helm following the Gunners' shock Capital One Cup penalty shoot-out defeat at npower League Two side Bradford on Tuesday, on top of their inconsistent Barclays Premier League form.

Reports have emerged of a growing rift between the manager and his assistant Steve Bould, while senior players are also said to be questioning the direction of Wenger's leadership and continued faith in some members of the underperforming team.

Wenger, though, hit back as he spoke to the media ahead of Monday night's Premier League game at Reading, insisting the squad were fully focused despite continued negative headlines.

"We are a united staff and team. You can unfortunately not control all the lies that are written in the newspapers," Wenger said.

"I believe it is a good opportunity to show that we are strong inside the club and let people talk.

"We are criticised when our results are not good - we have to take that on the chin, but that we have to face a lot of lies is less acceptable."

Wenger added: "This team cares, is serious and wants to do well, I do not question the spirit of the team.

"I have a strong squad, I believe we have a very strong team. It is down to us to prove me right."

Much was made of Arsenal's failure to see off the Bantams at Valley Parade, where Wenger had fielded a strong side as he looked to keep on course for ending a seven-season trophy drought.

Wenger, however, maintained there had been no complacency and challenged his team to now channel their energy into beating Reading.

"In 16 years, it's the first time we go out against [a team from] a lower division. …

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