And the Gunners manager Arsene Wenger, who has admitted his team’s last disastrous week has left him feeling “not very well”, has demanded his club’s fans become more like those of deadly rivals Tottenham and start backing their team.
The Arsenal manager, whose team stumbled through the worst week of their season as they lost to Watford and Chelsea, all but ending any chance of a title challenge, refuses to give up but admits they face a tough fight even to make the top four.
Arsenal face a reviving Hull tomorrow with fans openly rebelling against their manager – one was labelled an “idiot” by TV pundit Gary Neville for unveiling a banner calling for Wenger to go at Stamford Bridge. But Wenger insists it is down to his players to step up to the plate and grow up.
“Competition is first of all a mental thing,” he said. “When you are a little boy you want a chance in life to show that you have quality. When you have it, don’t feel sorry for yourself, just show that you have it. That’s what it’s about.
Arsene Wenger has challenged his Arsenal star to start showing some fight
Arsenal have won just two of their last five Premier League games
“When you are in a competition you fight. You fight as far as you can.
“We are in a double fight, because we are in a fight to be in the top four. But we have to fight like we want to catch Chelsea, or you have no fuel. You have to refuse to give up.
“The players believe. We have 47 points, so that means we have won some games. Is it the hardest challenge yet to reach the top four? I’ll tell you at the end of the season. It’s hard of course but we have enough quality to do it. It has always been difficult but maybe it’s even tighter than ever.
“The title race is never over. We cannot behave or think like that. Even if people think it is, I don’t. We are in a pack that is very tight, where the fight for every position will be massive.
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“If it is over for us, it’s over for everybody else. First we have to focus on staying at the top, then if we can reduce the distance between us and Chelsea after, you never know.”
Wenger’s call for the fans, who were in rebellious mood during the home defeat by Watford last week and even less happy at the capitulation to Chelsea, to get behind his team will rankle with some.
“Our fans have a high level of expectation, as I have. But you cannot be a fan until last Tuesday [Watford] and not be a fan any more, not be behind the team on Saturday. It doesn’t make sense,” he said.
““All the other clubs, everywhere we fight, with Man United, Man City, Liverpool, they have big expectations as well. We absolutely have to be united or we have no chance.
Wenger will be in the stands for Arsenal's match against Hull
“You have Tottenham, everyone is in the fight, and everyone is behind their team. We have to do exactly the same.
“What is important is that we focus on the next game and not give too much importance to one fan. It’s not me at stake, it’s Arsenal Football Club and Arsenal’s season at stake.
“It’s important that you have different opinions, that always happens. But what matters is not the opinions of people, it is the next result, and how we respond to a difficult situation. This is a period where we have to stick together.”