Football: 15 Years On, No Party for Wenger
London. There will be no celebrations to mark Arsene Wenger’s 15th anniversary as Arsenal manager on Saturday, just a north London derby at Tottenham the following day.
The Frenchman is not in a celebratory mood after seeing his team win just twice in its six Engish Premier League matches this season.
“There is plenty not to be happy about,” Wenger said. “I never look back and I am not an anniversary fan.”
The former Monaco and Nagoya Grampus Eight manager has won the Premier League title three times, but with Arsenal failing to win a major trophy since the 2005 FA Cup, the pressure on him has been mounting.
With fans’ memories fading of how Wenger has revolutionized the setup at Arsenal and the unbeaten league campaign in 2003-04, there have even been calls for the 61-year-old manager to be fired.
“We all have trust in the manager and we now need to go and show the people that they are wrong,” midfielder Alex Song said.
Arsenal goes into the derby 13th in the standings, while Tottenham is sixth although just two points ahead.
Morale has been raised at Arsenal by a run of three wins: over Olympiakos in the Champions League, Bolton in the Premier League and Shrewsbury in the League Cup.
“I think we have a good opportunity to show we can do something in the league this year,” Song said.
Tottenham has bounced back from its own poor start — successive losses — by winning twice and drawing once.
Manchester rivals United and City are leading the way this season, unbeaten and separated only by goal difference at the top.
United hosts Norwich on Saturday fresh from a 3-3 draw against Basel that left it with just two draws in the group stage so far.
City heads to nearby Blackburn on Saturday with more serious issues after striker Carlos Tevez was suspended for apparently refusing to come off the bench in Tuesday’s 2-0 loss at Bayern Munich.
“We need to try to help Carlos,” said Pablo Zabaleta, a teammate for City and Argentina. “He has been a really important player for us in the last two years but maybe this season he has had more games on the bench.
“Sometimes that is difficult, and more so for strikers, who need to play, need to score, need to feel confidence.”
Just two other teams remain unbeaten after six matches: fourth-place Newcastle, which is at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday, and Aston Villa, which is eighth and hosts Wigan.
Also Saturday, Liverpool is at Everton for the Merseyside derby and Sunderland hosts West Bromwich Albion.