Wenger won't go mad over Deeney row
Arsenal face Watford for the first time since Troy Deeney questioned the Gunners' desire, but such criticism does not bother Arsene Wenger.
Arsene Wenger has no message for Watford captain Troy Deeney ahead of Sunday's Premier League clash at Emirates Stadium – insisting he would go "mad" if he responded to every broadside fired in Arsenal's direction.
Deeney equalised from the penalty spot when the sides met at Vicarage Road in October before Tom Cleverley hit a late winner and, in a post-match interview, the striker accused Arsenal of lacking "cojones".
The Gunners' desire has been heavily questioned over recent weeks, with 3-0 losses to Manchester City in the EFL Cup final and Premier League preceding another sapping top-flight defeat at Brighton and Hove Albion last weekend.
Wenger's team offered a belated and stylish response on Thursday as first-half goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey sealed a 2-0 Europa League win over AC Milan at San Siro and the under-fire manager told reporters there are more pressing matters at hand than engaging with the outspoken Deeney.
"You think I haven't had enough controversy in the last few weeks? You want me to add some more?" he chuckled.
"All we can do, as always, is respond on the field with our performance, not focus on what people say.
"You understand very well that if I responded to every single statement in the country I would already be mad – I am mad anyway, maybe, but I would be even more mad."
13 - Arsenal’s victory ended a run of 13 games without defeat for AC Milan in all competitions, with the Italian side's previous loss before this coming back in December 2017 (v Atalanta in Serie A). Scalp. pic.twitter.com/uKjIvE0Gxm— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 8, 2018
Asked whether Deeney had provided perfect material for a pre-match team talk, Wenger maintained all the focus in preparation for facing Javi Gracia's side would be upon Arsenal themselves.
"First of all, what is important is to add another win to a win, to build up the belief again. For us that is clearly the most important thing," he added, having overseen four consecutive losses in all competitions before the trip to Milan.
"It's better you focus on how you play, other than what people say.
"Judgement is judgement, we have to focus on the quality of our game. I would like games that are not as bad as everybody said.
"Really, we have to live with that [criticism]. I have a responsibility to win football games and if I don't I accept the criticism."