Half the team wanted to leave: Wenger
Ahead of tonight's clash with Marseille, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger reveals he faced a mutiny from players who wanted to ply their trade at better paying clubs
Arsene Wenger has claimed "half the dressing room wanted to leave" Arsenal this summer and the hangover could be behind their poor start to the season. Sunday's 2-1 win over Sunderland lifted Arsenal back into the top half of the table, but the Gunners are 12 points off the pace at the top of the table already and face a fight to reach the top four.
Skipper Robin Van Persie (left) and Aaron Ramsey (centre)
stayed faithful to Arsenal while many of their teammates
moved to better paying clubs and Mikel Arteta was brought in
to steady the ship. Pic/Getty Images
Their early season struggles were highlighted by the shocking 8-2 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford, coming on the back of a summer that saw key midfielders Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri sold despite Wenger's insistence he wanted them to stay.
"It was a very difficult summer because half the dressing room wanted to leave," Wenger said in comments made on French radio station RTL and reported by the Guardian. "It was extraordinarily difficult. What saved us is that we're a club that are extremely solid and united. Other clubs would surely have gone to pieces in those circumstances," added Wenger, whose team play French outfit Marseille in a Champions League encounter tonight.
Wenger admitted that simple economics meant that players wanted to leave Arsenal because there was more money on offer elsewhere. "It's not that (players have to leave to win titles)," he said. "The problem isn't that. Frankly, if you compare what Manchester City have won in the past and what Arsenal have won, then you don't go to Manchester City to win titles. Players go to Manchester City because they pay much better than Arsenal," said Wenger, who lost Nasri and Gael Clichy to City this summer.