Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Bad loser Arsene Wenger to shake up the league

Arsene Wenger has admitted he is a “bad loser” but does not regret his refusal to shake Mark Hughes' hand.

Wenger was condemned by Hughes for failing to accept his offer of a handshake after Arsenal's 3-0 Carling Cup defeat by Manchester City on Wednesday , but the Gunners boss insisted he would behave exactly the same way again, though he refused to confirm a report stating he had been verbally abused by Hughes during the match.

“Tomorrow, by coincidence, I am managing my 500th game at Arsenal and I believe I have shaken hands 497 times,” he said.

“I believe that it is a ceremonial courtesy, but the most important thing is not the ceremonial but the courtesy of behaviour.

“I don't deny that I am a bad loser, but on this occasion I would have done exactly the same if we had won or lost the game.

“I act in accordance with the principles I think are important on the football pitch and I maintain exactly what I said and did.”

When asked if he had been insulted by Hughes, Wenger responded: “I'm used to treating this kind of thing with the needed distance. I do not want to make a fuss.

“There are incidents on the touchline, but you never heard me ever say anything about another manager after the game, in a press conference or after during the week.

“I maintain exactly the way I behave and do not regret one second of what I did.”

Meanwhile Wenger claimed comments attributed to diminutive Russian Andrey Arshavin in the aftermath of last Sunday's 3-0 defeat by Chelsea had been taken out of context.

Arshavin, who stands 5ft 7in tall, complained that Arsenal “don't have many tall players” and are “not very good,” but Wenger insisted he was referring to the injury-enforced absence of Abou Diaby, Nicklas Bendtner and Robin van Persie — Arsenal's biggest players.

“I read the original interview and it is not exactly what he said,” said the Frenchman.

“He said at the moment we are missing some players and that makes it difficult, but the Premier League is difficult.

“You can understand sometimes that after a big-game loss

their disappointment gets a little high.

“We were shocked by what happened on Sunday. Sometimes you can't take every word a player says after a game literally, especially when it's translated.”

Wenger admitted Arsenal will host Stoke at Emirates Stadium today demoralised by recent setbacks.

The defeat at City was their third successive domestic loss, but more importantly the emphatic nature of their collapse against Chelsea has once more highlighted their frailty.

Arsenal trail leaders Chelsea by 11 points yet Wenger refuses to concede the title race.

“We are disheartened. We are not light-hearted at the moment, I don't deny that,” he said.

“I believe it is a good way to see how strong we react. I believe the players are disappointed, but highly motivated and determined to get back on track in a convincing way.

“We have a game in hand on the other teams and I believe that Chelsea and Manchester United can drop points.”

Hughes is keen to draw a line under his touchline spat with Wenger.

“We keep revisiting things that have already occurred,” he said.

“I have my view, as I tried to articulate after the game. I am sure Arsene has his view on it as well, but that is between myself and Arsene, not anybody else.”