Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Wenger worried as Arsenal fans boycott Watford win

Wenger worried as Arsenal fans boycott Watford win

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger gestures on the touchline during their English Premier League match with Watford at the Emirates Stadium in London on Sunday. AFP
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger gestures on the touchline during their English Premier League match with Watford at the Emirates Stadium in London on Sunday. AFP

Wenger worried as Arsenal fans boycott Watford win

Arsene Wenger admits Arsenal are struggling to win back their furious fans after thousands stayed away from the 3-0 Premier League win over Watford.

For the second successive game at the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal played in front of vast swathes of empty red seats on Sunday.

Arsenal blamed heavy snow for the low attendance in their recent defeat against Manchester City, but the no-show against Watford could only be put down to a fatal combination of anger and apathy after another miserable season.

“Must be -4 and snowing again at the Emirates,” Manchester United legend Gary Neville, now a prominent pundit, tweeted soon after kick-off.

But Wenger, as he fights to keep his job, conceded he could understand why Arsenal supporters are so frustrated by their team’s wretched run.

“There is a lot of negativity. It is like rain in England – it is easy to get,” he said.

“Of course I worry because I want our fans to be behind the team, but after what happened in that week it is understandable.

“We want to have the fans on our side and we do everything to make that happen.

“I respect everyone’s opinion but I focus totally on my job.”

The stay-aways missed a solid Arsenal performance as goals from Shkodran Mustafi, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan ended a run of three successive Premier League defeats.

But the win did little to improve Arsenal’s prospects of a top-four finish – which brings qualification for the Champions League – and won’t carry much weight with supporters who feel ending Wenger’s 22-year reign is the only way to get their club back on track.

Without a league title since 2004, Wenger is clinging to the hope that reaching the Champions League by winning this season’s Europa League will spare him the axe.

But the drab atmosphere at Sunday’s game gave it an “end of an era” feel that will persist until Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke and chief executive Ivan Gazidis conduct the end-of-season review that will decide Wenger’s fate.

For now, all Wenger can do is focus on leading Arsenal on a long winning run, starting with protecting a 2-0 lead when AC Milan visit the Emirates in the Europa League last 16, second leg on Thursday.

Wenger is encouraged by the way his players have stayed united in a difficult time.

Vindication

“We suffered a bit at the start of the second half but after that with our spirit, we stuck together and in the end it was a convincing win,” he said.

“It gets us out of this negative spiral a little bit. We had a nightmare week. There is still some work to do, but overall we are in a good way.”

In a dismal year, there was a rare moment of vindication for Arsenal when Watford captain Troy Deeney saw his second-half penalty saved by Petr Cech.

Deeney had questioned Arsenal’s spirit after Watford beat them in October and Wenger said a desire to prove the striker wrong had motivated their performance.

“Cech had to wait a while to save a penalty. It’s quite fortunate that it’s against Deeney,” he said.

Watford boss Javi Gracia refused to blame the defeat on Deeney’s jibes, which came before he was in charge.

“Troy was concentrated on playing well and helping the team,” Gracia said.

“He had a chance to score the penalty but he didn’t do it.

“I don’t know what Arsenal were thinking, but I’m happy with him.

“I’m responsible for my words. I respect all the teams, Arsenal as well.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen

  • Kingdom eyes India FTA, China deal set for August

    Cambodia is studying the possibility of establishing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with India to open a new market with the second-largest regional economy. This comes as an FTA with China is scheduled to be signed next month while similar negotiations with South Korea

  • Judge lands in court after crashing into alleged thief

    Sen Sok district police on Thursday sent a Koh Kong Provincial Court judge to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on manslaughter charges after he crashed his car into a woman riding a motorbike on Wednesday, killing her. District police chief Hour Meng Vang told The

  • Preah Vihear court drops charges against villagers

    The Preah Vihear Provincial Court has dropped all charges against eight ethnic Kuoy villagers who were in a land dispute with the Hengfu Group Sugar Industry Co Ltd since 2014. Wednesday’s decision was made by the judge who tried the case on June 10. The eight

  • Gov’t to boost Siem Reap tourism

    The Ministry of Tourism released the results of an inter-ministerial committee meeting concerning Siem Reap province’s Tourism Development Master Plan for 2020-2035 on Wednesday, revealing the government’s plan to improve the overall tourist landscape there. The meeting was attended by Minister of Tourism

  • Residents ordered to remove structures on Phnom Penh’s canal

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng has ordered authorities to act against the perpetrators who built houses along the Luo 5 canal in Meanchey district. The municipal administration plans to create a committee to solve the matter. The order was given on Wednesday while Sreng led

  • ‘On the offensive’: Cambodia to load up on loans to stimulate economy

    As the dust settles on the economy, Cambodia comes to grips with what needs to be done to turn the economy around, starting with a big shopping list for credit ‘We are going on the offensive,” Vongsey Vissoth, Ministry of Economy and Finance permanent secretary

  • Eighty replacement peacekeepers set for Mali mission despite Covid

    Eighty Cambodian blue helmet soldiers who completed the peacekeeping mission under the UN umbrella in Mali will return to Cambodia on Friday, said the Centre for Peacekeeping Forces spokeswoman Kosal Malida. “To protect their families and communities from the Covid-19 pandemic, the 80 are required to

  • Government set to make up for cancelled April holiday

    The government is set to make up for a five-day Khmer New Year holiday late this month or early next month. The holiday was earlier cancelled due to the onset of Covid-19. The announcement is expected on Friday as the government is studying a range

  • Families told to register for cash handouts

    The government has called on poor families to apply to commune authorities for evaluation to receive financial support during the Covid-19 crisis. A $300 million budget has been planned for implementation within a year. Ministry of Economy and Finance secretary of state Vongsey Visoth said this