By Richard Clarke

Arsène Wenger refuses to accept the negativity surrounding Arsenal right now.

For some, the disappointing defeat at Porto on Wednesday is one symptom of the malaise that has troubled the team all season. For others, a much-weakened Arsenal side simply lost a game they could afford to lose.

The manager argues the Club started the season with two major aims – the Champions League and the Premier League – and they are still eminently possible.

Certainly as possible as, say, going through a League season unbeaten or reaching the Champions League Final with a makeshift defence – both of which have been achieved in recent years.

Those sides were doubted all the way. This one is questioned now. For Wenger, the youth of the current team is a reason not an excuse and, given the brightness of the future, they need to cut them a little slack.

“Why should we be infected by this?,” he asked. “If there is a doubt, there is a doubt. Everybody can doubt your ability but what is important is that you believe in your ability and show it on the football pitch.

“I believe that with such a young team, the minimum you can do is to be behind them, be proud of them and help them. To always ask them if they are good enough, personally I don't think that helps the team. It is the first question that I have been asked since the first of July to the first of May.

“I don't know why we are always in that negative culture. In every single press conference it is exactly the same. We have not to be affected by the scepticism around the team, we want to show that kind of strength.

“We believe in ourselves.”

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12 Dec 2008