A “difficult climate” at Emirates Stadium contributed to Arsenal’s poor home form this season and eventually led to the team missing out on a chance to win the Premier League title, manager Arsene Wenger said on Friday.
Among the top five teams, fourth-placed Arsenal have the worst home record and disgruntled supporters have voiced their frustrations over the club’s failure to finish atop the league for a 12th successive campaign.
Fans from the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, the Black Scarf Movement and Red Action intend to protest at Saturday’s clash against Norwich City under the banner of “Time for Change” in how the club is run.
“Some people question this team’s character but they have character and attitude and some people who question them have less character than this team has,” Wenger told reporters.
“They should not question this team. We have to stick together. We lost the championship at home against lower teams but we played at home in a very difficult climate. We are top of the league in the top teams; we want to add what is needed.”
Questions were raised over Arsenal’s ambition after they made only one senior signing – goalkeeper Petr Cech – during the close season, and over whether Wenger was being given enough funds by majority stakeholder Stan Kroenke to improve the squad.
Wenger, however, insisted Kroenke has never stopped him from dealing in the transfer market.
“I don’t want to go into personal comment on my owners. Every club should work with the resources it generates and that is what we do,” Arsenal’s longest serving manager said. “That is one of the values I speak about…He has never stopped me in the transfer market, he is very ambitious, we all are.”
Arsenal duo Santi Cazorla, out since November with an Achilles and knee problem, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, side lined for two months with a knee injury, will both be available for selection against relegation-threatened Norwich.
“One of the two could be involved. Cazorla has practiced for two weeks with the team, Alex for one week, so one of the two could be,” Wenger said.
The north London side have a five-point cushion over fifth-placed Manchester United, who have a game in hand, as they look to take a step towards cementing their place in next season’s Champions League when they face Norwich on Saturday.