Wenger on the warpath: Raging Arsenal boss comes out fighting and tells critics 'don't insult my players' despite FA Cup humiliation
12:41 GMT, 18 February 2013
15:55 GMT, 18 February 2013
Arsene Wenger has launched an impassioned defence of his team and tactics in the wake of Arsenal's humiliating FA Cup defeat by Blackburn Rovers.
Wenger couldn't hide his anger during a press conference on Monday morning, but is coming under increasing pressure as the club face an eighth successive year without silverware.
The Arsenal manager has defended his team selection and laughed at the suggestion he isn't taking the world's oldest club knockout competition seriously.
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Anger: Arsene Wenger attacked his critics at a press conference yesterday
Wenger said: 'I've been accused of not taking the FA Cup seriously. I've won it four times. Tell me who has won it more than me. Tell me, one name.
'I've been accused of not putting out a strong enough team – this is an insult to those who started the game, 11 internationals.'
Arsenal face a huge task to progress
into the quarter-finals of Europe's elite competition with last year's
beaten finalists standing in their way.
The players looked downcast as they arrived for training on Monday morning at the club's London Colney base, knowing that anything other than victory in the Champions League on Tuesday night against Bayern Munich would effectively end their season.
Under fire: Wenger has defended his record in the competition – despite leaving some key stars on the bench
Cheer up! Mikel Arteta leads a group of players onto the training pitch including Olivier Giroud, Francis Coquelin and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
But Wenger has impressed on his players that they must put the defeat by Rovers behind them, and has also denied reports that the club are about to hand him a new two-year deal.
He said: 'That is the wrong information and I work for 16 years in England and I think I deserve a bit more credit than wrong information that has only one intention: to harm,' the Arsenal boss said.
'If it is good information which comes from nowhere it is all right, but this is wrong information that comes from nowhere and it is completely wrong.'
Wenger then became involved in a heated exchange with a journalist, adding: 'I look at you not because you give information, I do not know if it is you, I do not know where the information comes from. Why do you look at me I just thought you had given this information out.
Double trouble: Wenger with Jack Wilshere
'Here this is a pre-match conference
for the Champions League, if you want to talk about Saturday, that press
conference has been made after the game.
'Can we get some questions about tomorrow's game, that would be very nice.'
Wenger also confirmed Per Mertesacker is back in the matchday squad but Laurent Koscielny is unlikely to return for the clash at the Emirates.
Meanwhile, Mikael Silvestre, whom Wenger
signed from Manchester United in 2008 and made 43 appearances in the
Gunners’ defence, tweeted a tongue-in-cheek picture of an empty Arsenal
trophy cabinet, calling on Patrick Vieira to return to the club to help
his former manager.
Isolated: Wenger is under fire as Arsenal look to go another season without silverware
All in it together: Arsenal's players train on Monday
Vieira, who played 406 games for the club over nine seasons, is rumoured to be the favourite to replace Arsenal’s head of youth development Liam Brady.
Silvestre said: '@OfficialVieira go back to London and give Arsene a hand bro ! #rolemodele #legend #AFC #mcfc'
Silvestre, 35, who will play for either the Portland Timbers or Seattle Sounders in the upcoming MLS season, pointed to the fact that Arsenal have not won a trophy since moving to the Emirates Stadium from Highbury in 2006.
Rovers revenge: Blackburn dumped Arsenal out of the FA Cup – 12 months after they were beaten 7-1 at the Emirates
Fans replied angrily to the
defender’s message, with one Twitter user posting: 'Thanks for all your
help in addressing that during your time at the club Mikael, one of our
worst signings ever.'
Another wrote: 'For someone who was
so bad when playing for Arsenal, you've really got some nerve posting
that. Disrespectful fool.'
Vieira is currently in a football development role at Manchester City, where he ended his career in 2011.
VIDEO: Heated press conference with Wenger…
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