Wenger looking for Gunners response
Arsene Wenger accepts football is very much a confidence game - but has every belief Arsenal can deliver the required performance to bounce back from their midweek League Cup horror show with victory at Premier League bottom club West Ham tomorrow.
Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard admits the Blues have not shown the same drive on the field as last season, while new Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish acknowledges his squad are certainly in need of a lift of self-esteem following another disappointing result at Blackpool.
Wenger openly admits the Gunners were well below par as they went down 1-0 at Championship strugglers Ipswich on Wednesday night, despite having selected a strong side. And while Arsenal still have the second leg at Emirates Stadium in a fortnight to turn the tie around and stay on course for Wembley, there will little room for error at Upton Park if they are to keep up with Premier League leaders Manchester United.
"You think we are all arrogant, confident people, but when you do not have success for a while, the doubt creeps in quickly. It is about belief," Wenger said. "Kenny Dalglish has been in football all his life, and if he speaks about that, it is really the truth."
Wenger continued: "We have belief, yes. We are on a good run in the Premier League, we believe in our strengths, that is why it is always important to respond strongly to disappointments."
The Gunners could reduce the gap at the top down to two points again, as United are not in action until Sunday afternoon when they travel to Tottenham. Wenger will not settle for another "off night" at Upton Park.
"We are of course sorry [for defeat at Ipswich] and we want to put things right in the second leg. We had a completely average performance," he said. "If you play like that at West Ham you will lose. We will not play like that at West Ham and we want to win at West Ham. What is important for us is we go to West Ham and expect them to be up for it and for us to be prepared mentally.
"It is a Premier League game and is a derby, this season the Premier League has been very tight in every game and so we expect us to be completely produce a top-level performance to win the game, that is what we want to achieve."
Arsenal were eventually undone by some direct play from Ipswich when Tamas Priskin latched onto a long-ball which split the centre-backs to give the Tractor Boys an advantage which to defend when they travel to north London later this month.
Wenger is in the market for cover at the heart of defence, with both Sebastien Squillaci and Thomas Vermaelen sidelined. The Arsenal manager, though, rejected the suggestion his team were a soft touch at the back.
"I have seen many games where it is the Achilles heel of any team - we have to deal with that and we wanted to deal with that at Ipswich," said Wenger, who refused to be drawn on comments made by captain Cesc Fabregas concerning the opposition's "rugby" style tactics. "That was the only problem we faced and they did that in a consistent way - we had 70% of the ball and when you have that you want to create more than we did."
Arsene facing under-pressure Avram
West Ham boss Avram Grant continues to find his position under scrutiny, despite having produced some decent results in the past few weeks, which included winning their League Cup semi-final first leg against Birmingham. Wenger accepts sometimes a manager can find themselves in a no-win situation, both on and off the field.
"You have short-term results, have you lost the last two or three games? That immediately puts pressure on the managers. Then you have the problem that is the club in a position where it is expected to be?" said the Gunners boss.
"When the recent results and the situation in the club are both not working together, are both negative, then that usually puts people who are responsible under pressure. There is also a third thing which is completely new in England, and that is the change in ownership. You can also sometimes be under pressure because you are not necessarily the choice of the new owners."