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'People forget we lost some important players' – Wenger defends slump ahead of decisive week

11:07 GMT 10/02/2017
Arsene Wenger - Cropped
The Gunners boss has pointed to the absence of key men such as Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Mohamed Elneny to explain his side's struggles

Arsene Wenger says Arsenal's critics are not taking into account the key players they have had to manage without in recent weeks.

The Gunners have faced heavy criticism after suffering two consecutive Premier League defeats against Watford and Chelsea, leaving them fourth in the table and 12 points off the top.

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Arsenal host Hull City on Saturday before facing Bayern Munich in the Champions League last 16 and non-league Sutton United in the FA Cup, three matches which could define their season.

"Let's not go overboard, we have 47 points, it is down to us now where we will finish at the end of the season," Wenger told Sky Sports.

"We were 20 games unbeaten, but people forget we lost some important players recently.

"Since the start of the season we went into games without players like [Santi] Cazorla, [Granit] Xhaka, [Aaron] Ramsey we lost, [Mohamed] Elneny we lost recently. Unfortunately that happened all together recently.

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"I personally feel we have the quality, strength and spirit. The players want to do well – let's get over this disappointment and show what we are made of."

Wenger is all too aware of the importance of those games across three competitions and backs his players to overcome adversity.

He continued: "We come out of two disappointing results after a very difficult week. We have a very big game on Saturday and it is down to us to respond well.

"So what I mean when I say that is the way that we respond in a united way to a difficult moment in the season. It is a very sensitive moment because we come out of a big disappointment.

"But as well we have massive challenges in front of us, we play Hull first at home, then we have the Champions League at stake, then we have the FA Cup at stake.

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"It is an interesting point of the season as well because it is how you respond to that that will decide our season.

"We have to fight like mad to come back and fight against the teams around us."