Wenger calls on Arsenal to restore pride by winning north London derby
Arsenal must forget the disappointment of another year without a trophy and focus on winning next weekend's north London derby against Tottenham, according to manager Arsene Wenger.
Wednesday's 4-0 Champions League defeat by AC Milan, which almost certainly eliminated them from the competition, was compounded yesterday when they crashed out of the FA Cup in the fifth round with a 2-0 loss at Sunderland.
The Gunners will therefore, barring miracles, head into an eighth season without a major trophy, and they may well do so without even the consolation of a Champions League spot.
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Arsenal are currently in fourth place in the Barclays Premier League table but lead Chelsea only on goals scored with Newcastle a further point behind.
Great rivals Tottenham, meanwhile, are 10 points ahead in third place and will hope to do the double over Arsenal when they travel to Emirates Stadium next Sunday after winning 2-1 at White Hart Lane in October.
Asked about another trophyless season, Wenger said: 'The competition is very hard in England. I do not want to speak too much about that. We can speak a long time about that one day.
'At the moment we have to forget all that and focus on our next game and try to win it. We have won our last away game in the Premier League so let's win our next one at home.'
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The Frenchman was understandably on the defensive at the end of a miserable week, and he also confirmed he will be without Francis Coquelin, Sebastien Squillaci and Aaron Ramsey for the Tottenham clash after they joined an already lengthy injury list.
Addressing whether Arsenal are at crisis point, Wenger said: “It depends what you call a crisis. Every time we lose a game we have a crisis. Our job is about winning and playing well.
'We will get criticism but I feel that is a bit hard on the team.
'At the moment I get many lessons from many people who have managed zero clubs and zero games and zero European games.
'We have played 15 years in the top four, which is a mark of our consistency.'
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Wenger found an ally in Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill, who does not believe the Frenchman deserves the criticism that is being aimed at him.
'We haven't always seen eye to eye but I think he's been fantastic for the English game,' said O'Neill.
'Of course he'll be disappointed at the week, particularly losing the game in Milan.
'My own view is I don't think the criticism, which we all receive, is particularly merited. I think he's been one of the great managers and will be considered so.'
Sunderland's victory ensured they progressed to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup for the first time since 2004, when they eventually lost to Millwall in the last four, but O'Neill was cautious about talking up their chances.
He said: 'We're in it. There's only eight teams left in the competition and we're one of them.'
The performance was yet another indication of the progress the Black Cats have made since O'Neill succeeded Steve Bruce in December, and the Northern Irishman admitted his players have surprised even him.
He added: 'We put a big, big effort into the game, and that doesn't surprise me because they've been doing that for some considerable time, but I think I probably do get pleasantly surprised with them.'