Monday, February 18, 2013
ARSENE WENGER HOLD CRISIS TALKS WITH ARSENAL PLAYERS
Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger held an immediate 45-minute inquest into his side’s failings after the shock FA Cup defeat by Blackburn in a bid to salvage their season ahead of tomorrow’s Champions League clash with Bayern Munich.
And Wenger is determined to replace struggling goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny giving way for a new first-choice goalkeeper after the 22-year-old’s error allowed Colin Kazim-Richards to score the decisive goal in Blackburn’s 1-0 win.
Wenger is targeting Liverpool’s Pepe Reina to replace the Pole while Simon Mignolet, Asmir Begovic and Michel Vorm have also been scouted.
The Frenchman kept his players in the dressing room on Saturday to thrash out what was wrong after his side were booed off the Emirates pitch following their FA Cup fifth-round defeat.
Arsenal must overcome the odds and knock out the German league leaders and last year's losing Champions League finalists in the last-16 tie to maintain any hope of avoiding an eighth season without a trophy. But they will have to do it against the backdrop of increased fan unrest.
The FA Cup exit, together with December’s Capital One Cup defeat by Bradford and poor league form, has led to some fans demanding that Wenger goes.
It's understood that reports suggesting he will be offered a two-year extension on his current contract are wide of the mark.
A fans’ website called for a protest next Saturday with ‘Wenger out’ chants starting in the eighth minute of the Premier League game against Aston Villa to mark the eight-year wait for silverware.
Despite Saturday’s loss, Wenger feels the majority of his squad are good enough to challenge for trophies next season. But the Frenchman has acknowledged privately his side lack the world-class talent needed.
When they missed out on David Villa last month, Wenger and chief executive Ivan Gazidis decided the club should wait until the summer to spend their £70million transfer budget.
Fiorentina striker Stevan Jovetic, Borussia Dortmund playmakers Marco Reus and Mario Gotze, Celtic midfielder Victor Wanyama and Toulouse defensive midfielder Etienne Capoue have all been scouted.
Wenger is under no pressure from the club's hierarchy.
The Frenchman will recall first-team regulars Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker, Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla against Bayern.
Wenger said after Saturday’s defeat: ‘I think we have a great team but this shows that we still have to show more maturity on the mental front.’