Under-fire Arsenal star can beat the boo-boys says Arsene Wenger

Emirates crowd have been on the back of Andrey Arshavin in recent games

ARSENE Wenger has jumped to the defence of Andrey Arshavin after the midfielder was barracked by the Emirates crowd during Saturday’s disappointing draw with Leeds.

Arshavin has lost his place in the Gunners first-choice team to Theo Walcott, and was one of a number of players who disappointed during Saturday’s FA Cup draw with the Championship side.

Fans vented their frustration towards the misfiring Russian towards the end of the game but his manager insisted: “It is not through a lack of desire with Arshavin, he wants to do well.

“The fans were frustrated and that comes from when you don’t win. The fans are demanding. We were not consistent technically and so they picked on our inconsistencies.”


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It was Arshavin who was at the focus of the fans fury after missing a glorious early chance and then failing to have any impact as the game wore on.

The 29-year-old has scored just four times in 17 league games this season, and supporters are questioning the worth of a player who cost �15million from Zenit St Petersburg two years ago.

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He only has 18 months left on his contract and with talks over a new deal stalling before Christmas, talk of an Emirates exit for the Russian this summer is starting to gather pace, with Juventus a possible destination.

Wenger is also frustrated with the player’s form and dropped him for the recent clashes with Chelsea and Manchester City, but the Frenchman does not feel it will be a long-term problem.

“Every player has strong and weaker periods during a season and he has had a weaker period, then two or three weeks on the bench,” added Wenger.

“I have no worries that Arshavin will come back into the team, but their confidence does suffer a little bit from that.

“We try to analyse our games in an objective way and I am lucky because our players are self critical, they analyse themselves well and they want to do well.”

The Gunners boss was nevertheless frustrated that his side had failed to beat Leeds at the first time of asking.

A replay at Elland Road next Wednesday is the result, but Wenger is confident his side can win in Yorkshire and set up a fourth-round tie with Leeds’ local rivals, Huddersfield Town.

“I am confident we can do it,” said the Gunners boss. “Of course we are strong away from home and we know we got out of jail in the first game.

“In the end it was a relief to come back to 1-1 but I still have some regrets because we had enough opportunities after equalising to score [a winner],” admitted Wenger, although he refused to concede his squad rotation had again cost the Gunners as it did in the 2-2 draw at Wigan late last month.

“The quality of the players did not play a part but perhaps the structure of the team was a bit unbalanced and we could not dominate the midfield as we are used to.”

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