09 Mar Arsene Wenger unwilling to engage with Troy Deeney’s comments
Arsene Wenger believes he would have to be “even more mad” to discuss Troy Deeney’s negative comments about his Arsenal side ahead of the clash with Watford on Sunday.
Hornets skipper Deeney spoke controversially about Arsenal’s attitude following a 2-1 win over Wenger’s side in October.
Deeney hammered home a penalty after Richarlison went down under little contact from Hector Bellerin, with Tom Cleverley completing a comeback win with a last-minute strike.
Speaking to BT Sport after the game, Deeney said: “I’ve heard Wenger’s already blaming (the decision) as the reason why they lost.
“I’m not going to be the one to tell Mr Wenger about himself, but there’s a reason why they lost and it wasn’t because of one penalty.
“I’ll have to watch what I say. It’s (having) a bit of cojones, a bit of nuts.”
Ahead of the return fixture, current Watford boss Javi Gracia – who was not in charge at the time – backed Deeney for speaking his mind.
But Wenger, whose side recovered from four damaging defeats to win 2-0 at AC Milan in the first-leg of a Europa League last-16 tie on Thursday night, would not be drawn into criticising Deeney.
“You don’t think we’ve had enough controversy in the last week? We don’t need to add some more,” he said when asked about Deeney’s remarks.
“We want to focus on how we play rather than what people say. What we can do is just respond with the quality of our performance. We’re not going to focus on what people say.
“You understand that if you respond to every single statement, I would be mad. I may already be but I would be even more mad.”
Arsenal host Watford having not won a Premier League encounter since February 3 and with pressure on Wenger’s position intensifying following a string of galling defeats.
League losses to Tottenham, Manchester City and Brighton came among a Carabao Cup defeat to City and a home defeat to Ostersund in the last round of the Europa League.
But victory in Milan came courtesy of a much-improved performance and, while Wenger reckons that will help to re-establish confidence within his squad, following up with another victory over Watford is crucial according to the Frenchman.
“Let’s just focus on playing our game and winning again,” he said. “It’s important to win and then win again to build up the belief. That’s absolutely vital.
“Judgement is judgement and we have to focus on the quality of our game. Our games are not as bad as everybody has said, but we have to live with that.”
With a 13-point gap to the top four heading into the weekend, Wenger has conceded a return to the Champions League is now more likely by winning the Europa League as Manchester United did last season.
Therefore Wenger’s team selection against Watford will be interesting with the second leg with Milan to come four days later.
His options are already looking limited with neither Hector Bellerin nor Nacho Monreal travelling to Italy and stand-in full-backs Calum Chambers and Sead Kolasinac both limping off in the San Siro.
Club-record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is almost certain to start as he is cup-tied in Europe but Wenger could be tempted to bring in the likes of Mohamed Elneny and Rob Holding to give some key players a breather.