SWANSEA, United Kingdom (AFP) – Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal will make an immediate recovery from their European meltdown when they return to Premier League action at Swansea on Sunday.
Wenger’s side squandered a three-goal lead as they crumbled in spectacular fashion in the final 29 minutes against unheralded Belgians Anderlecht on Tuesday. The woeful collapse once again exposed the soft centre of Arsenal’s defence and sparked a torrent of criticism for Wenger and his players.
But the Gunners boss says his team’s morale has not been affected by either the result or the abuse and he is confident of returning to winning ways at the Liberty Stadium this weekend.
“I have managed 2000 games and can anticipate what people will say. If you defend and get back to 3-3, people will ask why you defend and not continue to play a normal game. If you continue to attack, people ask why you attack. It is so predictable,” Wenger said.
“We can learn a lot from what happened on Tuesday. We have special incidents. Some things we can correct, like the second and third goals.
“We are very positive inside the camp. We are not touched by that (the negativity). When we do not win, we are not happy. The rest, we can live with.”
Wenger will adopt a cautious approach by carefully managing Theo Walcott’s return to first-team action following a long-term injury. The England winger has just returned from a serious cruciate knee ligament injury which he sustained in the Gunners’ FA Cup third round win over Tottenham back in January.
Walcott has sat on the substitutes bench for the wins over Sunderland and then Burnley last weekend, where he was able to make an eye-catching comeback at the Emirates.
And Wenger won’t rush the 25-year-old straight back into his starting line-up after such a lengthy lay-off.
“In our job, every time you have a big injury, there is a bigger chance of having another,” Wenger said.
“He is now ready to play again and we just have to leave him in peace and give him the time needed to come back. He is in the squad. His ability to start is that if I decide to start him he can start.”
Meanwhile, Swansea striker Wilfried Bony, who interested both Tottenham and Liverpool in the close-season, is set to extend his stay in south Wales.
And Swansea manager Garry Monk has revealed the Ivory Coast forward could even sign a new deal before the fixture with Arsenal.
“Hopefully we can get it done before Arsenal – it has to go through the legal procedures but fingers crossed it can be done,” Monk said. “We’ve had a great relationship. We spoke a lot over the summer and I know how committed he is and how much he enjoys it here. This contact is a symbol of that.