West Bromwich Albion manager Steve Clarke has backed Arsene Wenger to turn Arsenal’s season around ahead of the teams’ meeting on Saturday.
West Brom travel to north London on the back of two straight defeats but still sit fifth in the Premier League table, while the Gunners lie in 10th place.
Clarke expects Arsenal to be determined to get back to form after enduring their worst start to a season for 18 years and is preparing his side for a backlash.
“It’s a game that we have to be positive about and look forward to,” he told reporters.
“The last two games have been frustrating for us for different reasons but going down to the Emirates is a different challenge.
“Arsenal are probably not playing as well as they would like and they’ve had some reverses so they’ll be fired up to try to turn their season around.”
Wenger has come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks, with the Arsenal fans showing their dissatisfaction after a 2-0 defeat at home to Swansea City.
And such a reaction comes as no surprise to Clarke, who served as an assistant manager at West Ham, Chelsea and Liverpool before taking the top job at West Brom.
“The way the game is now means, no matter what club you’re at, if your team is not doing well you’re going to get criticism,” he said.
“That’s the state of play with Arsenal at the moment.
“The team hasn’t been firing as maybe people thought they would do, especially after the start they had.
“They’ve introduced a few new players this year and it’s maybe just taken the team a little bit longer to find a rhythm than it did before but nobody can question the record of Mr Wenger. It’s a great record, he has done fantastically for the football club and I’m sure the club will stick with him.”
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