Arsene Wenger admits he has been left hurt by a lack of faith from Arsenal fans during their recent matches.
A 2-1 win over Leicester City in February looked to have put the Gunners firmly back in the title race, but defeats to Manchester United and Swansea City and a draw with Tottenham saw them lose ground to the Premier League leaders.
A 5-1 aggregate defeat to Barcelona in the Champions League and a shock 2-1 loss at home to Watford in the FA Cup has seen Arsenal effectively surrender their chance of lifting a trophy this season, and has led to growing calls from supporters in opposition to Wenger and majority shareholder Stan Kroenke.
“What hurts me is that at the important moment of the season we played in a sceptical environment,” Wenger said after Arsenal got back on track with a comfortable 2-0 win over Everton on Saturday.
“After the Tottenham game where we played a very good game, played with 10 men against 11 and came back to 2-2, I couldn’t understand why – at the moment when you need everyone behind the team – we had to hit that storm.
“From the media, okay. From our fans? It is a bit more difficult to take.
“But we have to get the fans behind us with our attitude, and make sure that they stand behind the team until the end of the season.”
One positive from Arsenal’s recent run has been the form of Danny Welbeck, who netted his fourth goal in nine games since returning from injury when he opened the scoring at Goodison Park.
“You cannot say you don’t miss a player of that stature for nine months,” Wenger said.
“I believe [he can make a difference]. I had many hesitations to play him before the game because he is still not completely over his knee problem.
“We have to be cautious but I pushed it because I knew this was now or never [for the title bid].
“I know this team has put in a lot of work since the start of the season, I know how much dedication this team has had over the last eight months and I want them to be rewarded.
“We have gone through a difficult period and it is a good test to see how a team survives after getting so much stick. When I see their response every day, this team deserves credit.”
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