A “hurt” Arsene Wenger has demanded a response to Arsenal’s shock Champions League defeat to Monaco when they welcome Everton to the Emirates Stadium today.
The critics were left sharpening their knives after the Gunners slipped to a 3-1 home loss to Leonardo Jardim’s men in Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 first leg, which left them a tall order to turn the tie around in the return meeting.
Arsenal were too often exposed in defence against the Ligue 1 side, while striker Olivier Giroud endured a dreadful outing in front of goal.
Wenger was not interested in playing the blame game, though, insisting the team must take collective responsibility and put in a much improved showing as they look to consolidate third place in Premier League.
“There’s nobody to blame individually. Who is a striker who didn’t miss a chance? The fact that we missed some chances was only one of the characteristics of the night,” he told reporters.
“For us what is important is to respond well. We are on a strong run in the Premier League and we have to respond to that disappointment in a strong way on Sunday afternoon – that’s all we can do.
“What is hurting is the defeat more than the criticism. I do not say I’m immune to it. I love to win and when I don’t win, I’m hurt of course.”
In contrast to Arsenal’s woes, Everton’s continental adventure continued in the Europa League as a 3-1 victory at home to Young Boys completed a 7-2 aggregate triumph.
Roberto Martinez’s side have now lost just once in their past seven matches and there is further cause for optimism in the fact Everton have not been beaten by Arsenal in the last five league meetings between the sides.
Martinez does not expect Arsenal to show any effects from their poor showing against Monaco, though, and pointed to the Londoners’ excellent home league record as a sign of the difficulty Everton face.
“I don’t think Arsenal will suffer from what happened against Monaco,” he insisted.
“You need to remember they only have one [league] defeat at home. We are desperate to go for a good result.”
Martinez, whose side are 12th, has no fresh injury worries to contend with ahead of the trip south. Christian Atsu and Bryan Oviedo (hamstring) remain absent after missing the clash against Young Boys, while Tony Hibbert, Aiden McGeady and Steven Pienaar (all knee) are not yet ready to return.
Wenger received another blow ahead of the match, with Jack Wilshere set for more time out after undergoing a minor ankle operation.