Belfast Telegraph

Wenger demands united front from Arsenal after Fabregas exit

BY Jim van Wijk

Arsene Wenger has called for Arsenal to produce a “united front” on and off the field when they run out at the Emirates Stadium for tonight's Champions League play-off first leg against Udinese.

The Gunners yesterday saw their captain Cesc Fabregas rejoin Barcelona after reluctantly letting him return to the Nou Camp in a £35m deal, bringing an end to the long-running transfer saga.

In the opening game of the new Barclays Premier League campaign at Newcastle on Saturday — which ended goalless and with summer signing Gervinho sent off — chants of “spend some money” were directed from the away end.

Wenger, though, remains steadfast in his belief all is not yet lost as the squad prepares for an early test of their credentials in order to make it through to the lucrative group stages of Europe's elite club competition once again.

“I just expect my team to have a good game and that will encourage their belief and strengthen their belief. At the moment that is the most important thing,” said Wenger, who must serve a touchline ban tonight.

“I understand everybody's worry, but I believe as well a club is a united front.

“Our players need the support from our fans. It is an important period for this club, but I am confident we will get over it in a very successful way.

“We need to remain united and not let the media manipulate our fans in a way they should not.”

Arsenal have been linked with a string of players this summer, from England defensive duo Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill to Manchester City's wantaway striker Carlos Tevez.

While Wenger insists Arsenal are “not frightened to spend money”, the Gunners boss is not about to lay out millions of pounds just for the sake of it.

“To spend the money on a top player is of course defendable, but just to spend the money is like you are worried,” he said.

“Our fans can be proud of the way we run this club, of the quality of player we have and of the financial situation that is existing at the club.

“Rather than convicting this club, they have more reason to be proud of the whole situation here.”

Meanwhile, Arsenal and Newcastle have both been charged by the Football Association for failing to control their players during Saturday's bad-tempered goalless draw.

Gunners forward Gervinho was sent off for striking Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton after the pair had squared up following what the home side claimed was a dive in the penalty area.

Arsenal have appealed that red card, but their midfielder Alex Song has also been charged separately with violent conduct following an earlier incident in the same game.

Belfast Telegraph


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