Belfast Telegraph

Arsene Wenger strikes back against calls for his exit

By David Harrison

Arsene Wenger's detractors came out of the woodwork again at The Hawthorns, despite Arsenal's 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, but the Frenchman dismissed them with a Gallic shrug and a reminder of what he has achieved over 18 years at the north London club.

"Arsene, thanks for the memories but it's time to say goodbye," read the banner which was unfurled after a victory which lifted his team back into the top six of the Premier League and completed a week in which they have again qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League.

Wenger's initial response to the message in an after-match Press conference was a curt refusal to comment but later, in a more reflective mood, he invited his critics to consider what he had achieved during his time at the club. It was a persuasive argument, albeit one which relied heavily on former glories.

"Look, in the last 15 years we are qualified for the last 16 in the Champions League," said Wenger. "Give me another club who has done that. I think we have shown extreme consistency and that's all we can do.

"We've had ups and downs in the league, yes, it's true, but you only come back again when the spirit is strong and healthy and united inside the club. And I think if you have shown such a consistency, it's because we have that at the club."

Suggestions that the words on the banner represented the writing on the wall over his future were defiantly banished with a promise that he would change neither his style nor tactics.

"I can do my job," he said. "I do my job with total commitment, I would like you to live with me and see for seven days what kind of work we produce, and you will see that it is total commitment."

Danny Welbeck's winning header crowned a performance which highlighted the intricacy and eye-pleasing nature of Arsenal's attacks but also their lack of firepower.

They next host Southampton on Wednesday, with injury doubts hanging over Kieran Gibbs and Nacho Monreal. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is fit despite picking up a knock.

Albion's third straight defeat has increased the pressure on their manager, Alan Irvine, who was taunted with chants of "you don't know what you're doing" over his second half substitutions.

The West Brom boss admitted that he found such abuse hurtful but accepted that it was inevitable.

"It's well known it took (Alex) Ferguson a long time to have the success he had. In today's climate he wouldn't have got anywhere," said Irvine.

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