Arsene Wenger reiterates faith in Arsenal players ahead of crucial Tottenham clash

The Frenchman believes his side can triumph in the north London derby on Sunday, and has challenged his players to turn negative press surrounding club around

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has faith in his players’ ability to beat Tottenham in Sunday’s north London derby, despite a string of poor performances over the past two weeks.

The Gunners have lost two consecutive matches on the trot - 4-0 at AC Milan in the first leg of their last 16 Champions League tie, followed by a 2-0 defeat in the fifth round of the FA Cup at Sunderland.

Wenger bemoaned the negative press surrounding the club lately but revealed the team will not be feeling sorry for themselves ahead of a game that may prove vital in their quest in finish in the top four.

“No matter what we say at the moment it will be printed in a negative way. It is up to us to transform that into a positive way,” the manager told reporters on Friday.

“You can't complain. We are in a fantastic job and we have a big game in front of us – to feel sorry for ourselves would be criminal. We have a good opportunity to show that we have character, that we have the mental qualities to play for this club and let's go for it.

“When you are in our situation at the moment, it is important you show faith in your players and stick with them. We live in a world where everybody is positive when it goes well, but life is not only ups, it is ups and down, successful lives are how people respond when you are down.”

Former Gunners players Emmanuel Petit and David O’Leary have recently given their thoughts on the situation at the Emirates Stadium, but Wenger dismissed the negative opinions and insisted the players and staff would do their upmost to turn fortunes around.

He added: “I do not need to respond to every single opinion. Everyone has the right to have an opinion [but] it does not mean they are right.

“Overall I believe you can understand everyone has an opinion because they care about the club and they want it do well. It is down to us to make sure that we do well.”

The Arsenal boss hinted towards aspirations of overtaking Harry Redknapp’s side before the end of the season despite the 10 point gap that exists between third and fourth place in the top flight.

“You judge at the end of the season,” the French coach reasoned. “The only thing you can say is that in the last 15 years Spurs have finished behind Arsenal.”

Wenger branded the game “exciting” and accepted that, with Spurs having an excellent season, the stakes have been raised for the derby.

“Tottenham are doing well and we are on a good run in the championship so it will be a good game,” he continued. “Every game is massive now until the end of the season, but it is exciting.”

“What is terrible is to play a game of no importance. What is important is that we enjoy it and come out with a good performance.”

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