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Arsene Wenger urges fans to stick behind Arsenal as they continue to rebuild

Huddersfield Town v Arsenal – Premier League – John Smith’s Stadium
(Image credit: Mike Egerton)

Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has urged fans to keep showing their support to the club as they continue to rebuild under Mikel Arteta.

The Gunners have not qualified for the Champions League since the 2015-16 season and during the past two campaigns have finished eighth in the Premier League.

Wenger had a tumultuous relationship with Arsenal fans towards the end of his largely successful near 22-year tenure which ended in 2018, and current incumbent Arteta – who took the reins in December 2019 following Unai Emery’s exit – has also faced criticism from sections of supporters.

Arteta’s side sit fifth in the table and are unbeaten in 10 games across all competitions, however, and Wenger has called on fans to stay behind the Spaniard and his team through thick and thin.

Speaking at the world premiere of ‘Arsene Wenger: Invincible’ in London on Monday evening, the 72-year-old told the PA news agency: “My advice is just to the fans to continue to support the club, to Arteta, to continue to try and gain the momentum to keep this going.

“They have invested a lot of money and hopefully some potential in the team and (I hope they) continue to keep that momentum in the team.”

Wenger won three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups, including doubles in 1998 and 2002, and was in charge of a record 823 matches during his reign.

However, after the move from Highbury to the Emirates in 2006, Arsenal lacked funds and struggled to remain title contenders, despite staying in the top four every year until Wenger’s penultimate term.

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“It changed completely the landscape (the move from Highbury) because we had limited resources to maintain the club at the top level,” the Frenchman said.

“For me personally, it’s my biggest achievement at the club, to remain – people speak only when you won – but we were three times second, five times third, six times fourth and that consistency is the most difficult with the limited resources that we had at that time and I’m very proud of that.”

His legacy also includes an unbeaten title-winning season in 2003-04 which forms the subject of the documentary film, which is released on Thursday, and with a wry smile Wenger admitted he hopes no-one will match his feat.

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“Look, we all want to do things in life that nobody else does,” he said.

“So let’s not be hypocritical, of course it is. But for me it is as well to do the job as well as you can do it, to have not one single moment of weakness during the season and at the decisive moments in the games, the players don’t give up and they keep their focus and they refuse to lose.”

Arteta, also in attendance at the the film premiere on Monday evening, played under Wenger for the Gunners from 2011-2016 and says the Frenchman had a massive influence on his decision to become a manager.

“He is the reason why I am a manager,” Arteta told PA.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (centre) celebrates

Wenger’s (centre) legacy also includes an unbeaten title-winning season in 2003-04 (Sean Dempsey/PA)

“When I joined the club I started to see how he could understand, how important values were for the team and for the club, to be consistent and then he was really supportive the day I told him I started to study and do my badges.

“He was always very supportive because he believed that one day, probably it’s been a little bit sooner than expected, but I had what I had to have to become a manager.”

:: Arsene Wenger and Mikel Arteta were speaking at the world premiere of ‘Arsene Wenger: Invincible’ at the Finsbury Park Picturehouse on Monday evening.

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