Arsene Wenger has responded to criticism aimed Arsenal's way by Match of the Day pundits Alan Hansen, Alan Shearer and Danny Murphy, all of whom have claimed the Gunners cannot capture the Premier League title this season.
The Frenchman admits to being an occasional viewer of the BBC's long-running show, in which regulars Hansen and Shearer are frequently joined by former Liverpool midfielder Murphy to discuss the latest round of top flight action.
Wenger doesn't rate their punditry, suggesting the trio bypass the need for facts in order to base their comments on opinion, reported by John Cross of the Mirror:
Sometimes I watch it (Match of The Day), sometimes not. Sometimes it’s just someone saying their opinion without an argument on something. That can make sense. But if it’s something based on hate or love, or just gut feeling then I just say, 'Okay, it’s an opinion - he might be right, he might be wrong.'
Often, he [the pundit] doesn’t sustain his opinion by some work he has done to support that argument.
Wenger also suggested he is more than willing to take criticism if it is reinforced with facts or patterns in play that suggest the Premier League leaders have made a mistake. He doesn't take Arsenal's recent lack of success as an indicator of their ability this campaign:
If you make an article tomorrow saying, 'I think Arsenal will win the championship because of that, this or that' or 'Arsenal will not win the championship because of something else. Look at these numbers or statistics, they always repeat the same mistake’ or offer something that is in there.
If you just say, ‘Arsenal will win the championship' or 'Arsenal won’t win the championship because they haven’t won it for eight years’, then I think it’s just an opinion.
Wenger even indicates he previously battled popular opinion by landing the North London club silverware during the early years of his Arsenal tenure:
"When I arrived here, people explained I couldn’t win the title as I am foreign," said the domestic division's longest serving manager. "Everybody has their own logic."
Match of the Day host Gary Lineker poked fun at his colleagues on Twitter, suggesting he's ready to provide a ribbing if Arsenal go on to claim this year's crown:
Arsenal have lost just two from 13 games this season—at home to Aston Villa on the opening day and away to Manchester United in November—suggesting they are more than equipped to lift the trophy in May.
The Gunners are currently four points clear of Jose Mourinho's Chelsea, a team they face at the Emirates on Dec. 23, nine days after travelling to Manchester City and 12 after taking on Napoli at the Stadio San Paolo.
Should the North London side make it through this period with their Premier League lead intact and Champions League hopes still alive, questioning Arsenal's credentials is likely to die down.
The club have done little to suggest they cannot maintain a run of form that has seen them rack up 10 domestic wins, as noted with the impressive 3-0 victory at the Cardiff City Stadium, a venue in which both United and City have failed to secure maximum points this season.
While wobbles have threatened to occur—such as the club's battling 2-0 win over Crystal Palace, a match which saw Mikel Arteta sent off—the Gunners continue to roll on in impressive fashion.
Wenger will take heart from Hansen's infamous quote of 1995, which saw him notoriously suggest Sir Alex Ferguson and United wouldn't win "anything with kids," a comment that came prior to the club's era of success across both England and Europe.
While Wenger's team have a long way to go if they are to reach these heights, it is becoming increasingly difficult to bet against Arsenal in their quest for Premier League glory.
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