Wenger fears life outside CL

Wenger fears life outside CL

Published Jan. 21, 2012 7:15 a.m. ET

The Gunners have slumped to successive defeats at Fulham and Swansea to derail their drive up the table, with the gap to Chelsea at four points ahead of this weekend's fixtures which sees Wenger's men host Manchester United on Sunday.

Arsenal have played in Europe's elite competition for 14 consecutive seasons under Wenger.

Earlier this week, chairman Peter Hill-Wood admitted the club had a contingency plan for the financial blow of failing to make the top four, stressing "so it's not a disaster" if they did not qualify.

In Wenger's eyes, however, the benchmark has been set.


"For me it would be [a disaster]", the Arsenal manager said. "Because I want to play with the best.

"We want to be in there, in the top four, and to play in the Champions League, and anything else would not be good enough."

Should Arsenal lose to United on Sunday, they could be cast further adrift of the top four, while leaders Manchester City and arch-rivals Tottenham, who clash at the Etihad Stadium, already seem well out of reach.

Wenger, though, continues to focus on the positives.

"It could be a good one [weekend]", he said.

"In the press you are now educated to see everything in black. You reflect the fans' fear, but you create it as well."

While insisting he is not looking for excuses for Arsenal's recent poor displays, Wenger believes his side have been on the wrong end of some key decisions, such as when Swansea were awarded a penalty for what the Arsenal manager saw as a dive by Nathan Dyer in a match they would go on to lose 3-2 at Liberty Stadium.

The Arsenal manager said: "We want the right decisions to be made.

"There are some people [in Sweden] who made a study of last season and we were second in the league considering the decisions of the referees and we finished fourth. It showed we were two points behind the leaders.

"There is no conspiracy, you can still win the game with a bad decision, but you want the right decisions to be made."

Wenger added: "If [Robert] Pires once dived against Portsmouth, okay, then for six months it was a story in the newspapers. Dyer dived on Sunday and nobody said a word.

"You cannot say it is exactly the same and it doesn't matter. If it doesn't matter when Dyer dives why does it matter when Pires dives?"

Arsenal were humiliated 8-2 at Old Trafford earlier in the season. Wenger, though, maintains Sunday will not be just about setting that right.

"It was a massive disappointment for us to lose at that level, but what is important is you do not play a football game for revenge, you play a football game because you want to win," he said.

Wenger's relationship with United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has mellowed from what it was when the two clubs were battling it out for Premier League supremacy.

The French coach may have a few years on the 70-year-old Scot, who has already delayed his retirement once.

Wenger, 62, knows the time will come when he too will have to contemplate life away from first-team management.

"We are in a job where we need our physical strength and health. That weakens, I've heard, the older you get," he said.

"I will maybe do a different job, not every day out there with the football team, but I will work, that's for sure.

"I don't like to get up in the morning and have nothing to do - maybe I will become a commentator."