Arsene Wenger has come out fighting after the worst month of his Arsenal reign and insisted: “I am more motivated now than the day I arrived.”
The veteran Frenchman made it clear that he has no intention of walking away after 19 years in charge despite the angry criticism he has faced in recent weeks. More after the cut…
And even the prospect of Champions League elimination by defending champions Barcelona on Wednesday has not left Wenger questioning his future.
He said: “My dedication to Arsenal is 100 per cent and I give more time to the club than I have ever done before. “I am honest enough to know that I always give my best and I hope one day people will witness that. “I built this club with hard work and no external resources. “If you compare the club I arrived at to where we are now, you will see we have moved forward without any help from anybody. “I feel even more the pressure and responsibility to keep this club moving forward, but I have never been too much of an image person. What people think of me is not important. “Honest dedication and total commitment. That’s what matters most. Football owes me nothing. I represent Arsenal and that means playing with passion and commitment.”
The under-pressure Arsenal boss, 66, could not have chosen a worse venue to mark his 200th game as a Champions League manager than the home of the best team in the world.Already trailing 2-0 from the first leg at the Emirates three weeks ago, the struggling Gunners need a miracle against a team on a 35-match unbeaten run who have already scored 131 goals this season.Yet Wenger is adamant that his team will not go out with a whimper, even if it means risking the sort of humiliation which could damage his side’s fragile confidence forever.
Wenger added: “Our task is very clear. We have to attack, which is what we like. We have to score two or three goals. “We are in a position where we don’t have to think too much. Our approach is very clear. We have to take the game to them. “But we must do that knowing that the magicians of Barcelona will demand a very solid defensive performance from our side.”
Gunners fans who witnessed the recent home defeats by Swansea and Watford understandably fear the worst on Wednesday.
Wenger admitted: “We have gone through a recent disappointing spell and it is important to stay strong and calm. “I have had 200 games in the Champions League and we have won everywhere in Europe except here. “We need to deliver something special if we are going to achieve that. But I am convinced the players are united to give the strong response needed for a great result. “We fight very hard to be in the Champions League. It took a miracle against Olympiakos to get us here so we will give our best and you never know what might happen.”
Only Sir Alex Ferguson has managed more Champions League games than Wenger (209) but the Frenchman is further away from winning Europe’s most prestigious trophy than ever.