Wenger: Players will prove critics wrong

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has backed his team's strength of character to overcome continually being "slaughtered" for defensive errors.

A great strike from Giroud.

The Gunners found themselves 2-0 down after an hour against Liverpool in midweek, with some sloppy individual mistakes at the back proving costly.

However, Arsenal rallied to net two quick goals themselves and could have gone on to win the match.

Wenger moved to bolster his defensive options with the deadline day signing of Spain full-back Nacho Monreal, which will cover for Kieran Gibbs' enforced absence because of a thigh injury.

However, the Arsenal manager maintains his men can pull together to come through what has been a testing campaign in the wake of plenty of harsh words in the media - and from some of their own supporters.

"Everyone of us is affected by criticism, I didn't meet one person who loves absolutely to be slaughtered. All of us prefer to say 'yes you are great'," said Wenger, whose side host Stoke on Saturday.

"You can never say you are completely unaffected, you can know it affects you and put that aside and focus on what you have done, but you cannot say you don't care what people think about you.

"The team has certainly been deeply affected by all the negativity and also by the fact they are highly focussed to do well.

"They have fantastic focus, and want to do well, but sometimes that can be a bit inhibitive."

Wenger added: "I don't believe that my players miss strength of character, they have plenty of character.

"They want to play in a bit more spontaneous way at home. We feel we have a bit of inhibition.

"We have to get rid of that and I think we have the strength of character needed to do it."

For all of Arsenal's defensive failings, they remain a formidable attacking force, with Olivier Giroud netting his fifth goal in three games against Liverpool and Theo Walcott also on the scoresheet once more.

Wenger believes focus on keeping things tight at the back must not overshadow what Arsenal do best when in full flow.

"It is a danger to take out your weak points, that you get out your strong points as well," he said.

"Our philosophy has to be permanent and knowing that if it does not completely work you will be criticised for it.

"I am not sure it is down to our philosophy, it is down to the fact it is more a psychological problem."

Wenger added: "Somebody told me that we were second in the league just two points behind Manchester City in our second half of games, but 12th in the first half.

"That can only be psychological because you do not become a good football player in the second half and you are bad in the first half.

"So it is important that you just purely focus on the technical side of your game and forget in the first half who you play against, just enjoy to play.

"For me there is a lot of quality in our team, but we have to find the right balance between going forward and being tight at the back."

Wenger believes the addition of Monreal will help in doing just that.

"His transitional play, from offence to defence and defence to offence, is quick," said the Arsenal manager.

"Monreal's offensive record is quite good, in creating crosses and final balls."

Arsenal were linked with a host of players during the January transfer window, including Barcelona forward David Villa and West Ham midfielder Mohamed Diame.

Wenger knows what the squad is able to achieve between now and May will govern his transfer policy when the window opens again.

He said: "At the moment it is very difficult to say (on targets) because from now on until the summer is a long period, and it depends as well how well we do until then."



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