Tuesday, March 3, 2009

No worries, mate

Arsene Wenger, Arsenal.
0-0 to the Arsenal.

The scoreline has become so achingly familiar to Arsenal followers over the past month, sections of the Gunners support are beginning to turn against manager Arsene Wenger.

You have to go back to January 28th when Robin van Persie's last gasp equaliser rescued a point for Arsenal at Everton to find the side's previous Premier League goal.

But it's the fact that you have to go all the way back to George Graham's era to uncover the previous occasion the north London side registered four successive goalless draws which caused most consternation at the close of their stalemate with Fulham over the weekend.

It's remarkable that a team who haven’t tasted defeat in any competition over their past 15 outings have concerns about their form.

But Wenger finally conceded on Saturday that he now genuinely fears Arsenal will miss out on playing at the summit of European football in the Champions League next season for the first time since 1997.

Twenty-fours later, Arsenal's cause was aided by Glenn Whelan's stoppage time equaliser at Villa Park, a goal which meant Martin O'Neill's fourth-placed side had thrown away two points against relegation-haunted Stoke City and a possible eight-point advantage over the Gunners.

That's, though, surely cold comfort for the Arsenal supporters who sat through their side's latest toothless performance against Fulham.

Asked whether he believed the supporters were starting to lose faith, Wenger replied: "That is not my worry.

"What is important is that we show great attitude and do our job as well as we can.

"Fans turning on me doesn’t worry me, no. Not at all.”

A measure of the distance Arsenal are adrift in the title race is that it's conceivable Wenger is actually now looking at sixth-placed Everton's remaining fixtures.

Everton have to travel to Chelsea and Villa over six testing days next month, but that pales in comparison to Arsenal's run-in. Wenger's side have still to contest fixtures with Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United, the latter two games on enemy soil.

The Londoners restart their desperate search for a Premier League goal tonight at The Hawthorns against bottom-placed West Brom.

The Baggies, under Tony Mowbray, conceded five to Manchester United five weeks ago and have picked just one point from a possible 12 since. Yet Mowbray refuses to entertain criticism that his desire to play attractive football is related to the club's obvious defensive frailties.

He also maintains he has no concerns about getting the sack despite West Brom's probable relegation back to the Championship.

Mowbray told Sky Sports News: "Do I worry about my job? No. I understand the club that I'm working at and the resources this club has within the Premier League.

"I enjoy my job. I enjoy coming in and trying to improve the players and I enjoy sitting on the bench watching my team compete in the Premier League week-in, week-out and giving a pretty good account of themselves."

Copyright © Marc Fox and Soccerphile.com

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