Wenger takes blame for Arsenal's fall

by AFP on May 23, 2011

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Arsene Wenger has shouldered responsibility for Arsenal's slide down to fourth in the Premier League and is planning to step up his search for new signings in a bid to avoid a repeat next season.

Wenger's side wrapped up their campaign with a 2-2 draw at Fulham on Sunday and failure to finish in the top three means they will be forced to compete in the Champions League qualifying round at the start of next term.

The Frenchman admits that is a disappointment and he will now spend the close-season seeking reinforcements for a squad that has gone six seasons without a trophy.

"I think I'm responsible for the result and I'm very disappointed," he said. "I stand up for that. The players had an outstanding attitude. We have accumulated disappointment and that has had a big impact on the morale of the team.

"We played 58 games and have had big players out - Fabregas has played 22 games, Van Persie 18.

"In the decisive moment we have never had the whole team together. We have to rectify things, but even with money that is not easy."

The visiting Arsenal fans at Craven Cottage made their displeasure known at another poor performance and Wenger added: "The fans have a right to chant. They have been outstanding.

"They are not happy, I'm not happy and we need to accept that. But we have not to go overboard.

"Maybe in one year you will realise it's not as easy to always finish in the top four."

But, although Wenger will make signings, Arsenal fans will not be happy to hear the manager insist he will not break the bank to bring in new players.

"We cannot buy players for STG50 million ($A76.34 million)," he said.

"We have to be realistic. If we find the right players we'll spend the right money.

"Fourth place is disappointing because three weeks ago we were in a position to win the game and of course we didn't lose our top three place today, we lost it last week."

Arsenal recovered after twice falling behind to goals from Steve Sidwell and Bobby Zamora with Robin Van Persie netting the first equaliser before Theo Walcott claimed a point in the last minute.

Fulham's efforts weren't helped by the 74th minute sending off of Zoltan Gera for a two-footed lunge on Thomas Vermaelen.

The Hungary midfielder had been on the pitch just three minutes and manager Mark Hughes hopes the red card doesn't affect the clubs hopes of qualifying for the Europa League through the fair play table.

"We are hopeful that the sending off won't have much impact," Hughes said. "You hope that hasn't cost us, I would like to think it hasn't because it is some achievement."

Gera has stated he wants to leave the club during the close-season when he becomes a free agent, although Hughes has not given up hope for persuading him to stay.