Arsene Wenger and Arsenal Must Do Talking on Pitch After Scrapped Media Briefing

James McNicholas@@jamesmcnicholasFeatured ColumnistMarch 24, 2014

Arsene Wenger has generally enjoyed a positive relationship with the British sports media. He is generous with his time and patient with their questions.

Unlike Sir Alex Ferguson, he is not given to handing out bans over petty personal issues. He usually does his media duties with a smile.

That's why the events of the weekend are particularly striking: After Arsenal's thrashing against Chelsea, Wenger neglected to turn up for his own press conference.

The club have now cancelled the pre-Swansea briefing that was scheduled to take place Monday. Opting against holding a midweek conference is not unprecedented. However, what's unusual about this instance is that journalists received an email on Friday inviting them to London Colney to question Wenger.

By Sunday night, they had received a second communication from the club, informing them that the press conference had been cancelled. The inference is clear: Wenger has decided he does not want to talk to the press.

The media silence extends beyond even that. The official club social media accounts have been deathly quiet. No players have tweeted from their private accounts. The club has gone into lockdown.

It's an interesting move, and one surely masterminded by Wenger. There are those who suggest he ought to attend the press conferences. They're his most direct way of communicating with the fans, many of whom feel they are owed an explanation for the shambolic performance at Chelsea.

However, Wenger presumably feels a media briefing could do more harm than good. Last time he was under this kind of scrutiny, on the eve of the Bayern Munich game in February 2013, a tense meeting with the press only served to exacerbate the problems.

Wenger briefly spoke to some journalists in the mixed zone. He told Dominic Fifield of The Guardian:

We felt we prepared properly with the intensity we did but we did not turn up for our game of the season, so it is puzzling. We were never even in it. After 20 minutes it was game over and it became a long afternoon, a long, dramatic, dreadful afternoon. We were shocked and knocked down. The team is healthy and willing but still the way it happened … we have to think deeply about it because it's not the first time. You could blame and blame but it does not help. What is important now is we show we have the capacity to respond.

He probably doesn't feel the need to add to that. Words only mean so much. As Wenger suggests, this is not the first time Arsenal have suffered a crushing defeat to a rival this season. They endured similar fates on trips to Manchester City and Liverpool.

After that Liverpool game, several Arsenal players offered apologies on social media. However, those apologies look somewhat pointless when the lessons of that defeat plainly haven't been learnt.

That fact is evidently not lost on Wenger: He knows the only way to make amends is on the pitch.

There is no more time for talk. The games come thick and fast now. Arsenal must respond on Tuesday against Swansea, or a promising season could collapse. The league may look beyond them now, but the prospect of a run of poor form jeopardising their FA Cup chances is a genuine concern for Arsenal fans.

The supporters expect a response. It seems it won't come in a press room, but on the pitch.


James McNicholas is Bleacher Report's lead Arsenal correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here.


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