WENGER BLAMES PLAYER ABSENCES FOR RECENT SLUMP IN FORM

Arsene Wenger says Arsenal’s critics are not taking into account the key players they have had to manage without in recent weeks.

The Gunners have faced heavy criticism after suffering two consecutive Premier League defeats against Watford and Chelsea, leaving them fourth in the table and 12 points off the top.

Arsenal host Hull City on Saturday before facing Bayern Munich in the Champions League last 16 and non-league Sutton United in the FA Cup, three matches which could define their season.

“Let’s not go overboard, we have 47 points, it is down to us now where we will finish at the end of the season,” Wenger told Sky Sports.

“We were 20 games unbeaten, but people forget we lost some important players recently.

“Since the start of the season we went into games without players like [Santi] Cazorla, [Granit] Xhaka, [Aaron] Ramsey we lost, [Mohamed] Elneny we lost recently. Unfortunately that happened all together recently.

“I personally feel we have the quality, strength and spirit. The players want to do well – let’s get over this disappointment and show what we are made of.”

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