BRUSSELS (AFP) – With Arsene Wenger struggling to explain Arsenal’s underwhelming start to the season, the north London club will hope for a boost on Wednesday when they make the short trip to face Anderlecht in the Champions League.
Arsenal go to Brussels knowing they must improve upon their showing against Hull City in the Premier League on Saturday, when they required a last-minute Danny Welbeck equaliser just to earn a 2-2 draw.
The result left them in seventh place in the table, already 11 points behind leaders Chelsea, and they have mustered just two wins in their last nine games in all competitions.
“At the moment we are having a bad period, but we didn’t lose,” said defender Per Mertesacker after the Hull game, while Wenger urged his side to get back to winning ways in the Belgian capital.
“Let’s focus on winning the next game. Football is made of pragmatism and realism so let’s focus to go to Anderlecht and win the game,” he told journalists.
Arsenal got off to a bad start in Group D, losing 2-0 away to Borussia Dortmund in their opening game last month, but they bounced back in convincing fashion in their last match, thumping Galatasaray 4-1 at the Emirates Stadium, with Welbeck scoring a hat-trick.
Six points from their double-header against Anderlecht – the return fixture in London is on November 4 – will have them well on course for a place in the knockout stage once again, but Arsenal are not helped by their on-going selection problems.
Mesut Ozil and Mathieu Debuchy are on the sidelines while centre-back Laurent Koscielny sat out the Hull draw with an achilles problem and Jack Wilshere came off in that game with a leg injury, although Wenger later described the midfielder’s problem as “not a lot”.