Football

Wenger insists they can improve woeful away form

MIDDLESBROUGH ARSENAL

Arsene Wenger insisted his Arsenal players have the character to halt a run of four successive away defeats when they visit Middlesbrough tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

Languishing in seventh place in the Premier League table, the Gunners know they need a dramatic improvement if they are to qualify for the Champions League for a 21st successive season.

Last week's 3-0 defeat by Crystal Palace highlighted how far the team have fallen since the pre-Christmas period, when they were seen as genuine title challengers.

Theo Walcott's admission after that loss at Selhurst Park that Palace "wanted it more" reflected badly on a side who have lost their way and reinforced the belief of those who believe veteran French manager Wenger should leave Arsenal when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Jack Wilshere, the Arsenal midfielder currently on a season-long loan to Bournemouth, believes that the players must take their share of responsibility.

"Sometimes, a manager can do only so much, as in prepare a team and then the team have to go out there and perform," Wilshere told Sky Sports.

But, despite the recent setbacks, Wenger has backed his players to turn the situation around. He said: "What makes the results is the character. These players are at this level because they have the character."

Wenger also commented on speculation that Alexis Sanchez could be offered a new deal worth £300,000 (S$525,000) a week to stay at Arsenal by insisting the Chile forward would not be allowed to hold the north London club to ransom.

"Some people tell me 'just give him what he wants', but then you cannot respect anymore any wage structure and you put the club in trouble as well," said Wenger. - WIRE SERVICES

eplarsenalMiddlesbrough