Wenger: Gunners are hurting

Sheffield Wednesday manager Dave Jones is braced for a “fast and

frantic” match against relegation rivals Barnsley on Saturday night

as his team bid to halt a seven-game losing streak.

The tea-time South Yorkshire derby sees two teams mired in

trouble towards the foot of the Championship go head to head at

Oakwell.

And with the high of last season’s automatic promotion now a

distant memory, Jones has to rally his team for a tougher battle

ahead.

Wednesday began the weekend in 23rd place, with Barnsley three

points better off in 22nd.

A Barnsley victory would mean the pressure mounts on Jones, who

this week said he felt it would be “harsh” if the Hillsborough

board decided on a change of manager.

The significance of the fixture will not be lost on the former

Southampton and Wolves boss, but he has attempted to treat it like

any other game.

“Is this a massive game? Yes – but they all are at a club like

Sheffield Wednesday,” Jones said on his club’s official

website.

“We will approach this game in the right manner and I’m sure

Barnsley will too.

“Both teams are desperate for the points and the pace will be

fast, it will be frantic and the live TV cameras are there for

added spice.

“All the ingredients are there and we now need to start turning

the performances into results.”

Barnsley striker Marcus Tudgay spent almost five years with

Wednesday earlier in his career but will not be taking it easy

against his old employers.

“(I have) tremendous memories,” he told Barnsley Player. “I

played a lot of games for them and scored some good goals and I

think my football started to blossom there.

“I had five great years and it will be good to see some of the

boys but it is work time for me and I will be wanting to do my

best.”

Tudgay has played for Wednesday against Barnsley before and

reckons the local derbies are always a little bit different to

other matches.

“Obviously there is a little bit more pride,” he said.

“To come up against your rivals you want to be able to walk away

with your head high knowing you did a job and got the three

points.”

The French manager, 63, has in recent weeks come under intense

scrutiny, which intensified following a dramatic penalty shoot-out

loss away to League Two Bradford in the Capital One Cup in

midweek.

Wenger has not delivered a trophy since the 2005 FA Cup and

there have been calls for him to step aside, while the players have

come in for criticism following a string of poor displays.

However, the long-serving Arsenal boss, whose deal runs until

the summer of 2014, has no doubt he and his team can improve.

“You think they don’t care and they go home and think they had a

fantastic game? They do care,” Wenger said.

“We prepare for games seriously.

“I have had groups who had fantastic results who were less

serious than these players, believe me, players who were less

focused than this team. Of course these players are hurting.”

Wenger, who sits on board meetings, has been criticised as being

too powerful within the club – branded “a dictator in many ways” by

one former Arsenal player, Stewart Robson.

The former Monaco boss, however, feels his experiences give him

a position of strength.

“My job is to be determined and give importance to what is

important,” Wenger said ahead of the Barclays Premier League game

at Reading on Monday night.

“What is important is I love football, I love this club and I

give my best for this club. The rest, I cannot interfere with.

“Believe me, I am highly focused on doing that and all the rest,

that doesn’t interfere with my thinking at all.

“I am very determined and very hungry.”

Wenger added: “I can understand that people criticise when the

results are not as expected, but it looks like it has become the

modern way to think.”

Despite their inconsistency in the Premier League, Arsenal are

still within striking distance of the top four and unlike both

Chelsea and Manchester City they have qualified for the knockout

stages of the Champions League once again.

Wenger said: “This season at the moment we are not happy with

what we have produced, but we will turn it around before the end of

the season.”

Reports have also emerged of a growing rift between the manager

and his assistant Steve Bould.

Wenger, though, said: “We are a united staff team. You can

unfortunately not control all the lies that are written in the

newspapers.

“I believe it is a good opportunity to show that we are strong

inside the club and let people talk.

“We are criticised when our results are not good – we have to

take that on the chin, but that we have to face a lot of lies is

less acceptable.”