By Declan Taylor
Arsène Wenger believes the gulf between Arsenal and Manchester United is not as big as it looks.
The Gunners currently trail Sir Alex Ferguson’s champions by 18 points and were comprehensively beaten by them in the Champions League Semi-Final earlier this month.
For many, this season has highlighted the ‘gulf’ in class between the two sides. Wenger acknowledges that opinion but he does not agree.
At Thursday’s press conference, when asked if he thought his side were ‘closer’ to Man United than perceived, the manager’s response was bullish.
“Of course,” the manager shrugged. “People will say it’s not true because we haven’t seen it in the games and after 10 minutes of the second [Champions League Semi-Final] game it was over.
“We have to accept it and come back. We live in a democratic, opinionated population and we cannot have the fans who come to the games to have no opinions.
“They have the right to do it and I accept their judgement. I have no problem with that.
“We live in a world of instant opinions. I have nothing against that but it doesn’t mean that instant opinions are right.”
‘Pride’ has been the buzz word surrounding Saturday’s fixture all week. With fourth place in the Premier League already assured and third-place Chelsea out of sight, points are not the raison d’etre in the Gunners’ final two games of the season.
Instead, Arsenal travel to Old Trafford with that Champions League elimination all too fresh in the memory. So is pride the only thing to play for? For Wenger, his players don’t have to prove that to him.
“I see them every day and my players can be proud of their attitude,” the manager said.
“These players have been remarkable with their attitude and quality in most of the games. I am very proud of my staff as well.
“I live in a job of responsibility and of commitment. There is a difference between the two.
“I am here to produce what I can. If it’s not good enough it’s not good enough. That is not down to me to judge that. I feel very proud of the commitment of the players.
“At the end of the day you can give as much as you can and it is down to other people to assess the situation. Is it good enough? I am happy to accept that.”