herald

Wednesday 26 April 2017

Walcott: Gunners must ease pressure on boss

Stoke boss Mark Hughes congratulates Irish striker Jon Walters on a job well done against Manchester City last night Picture: Reuters
Stoke boss Mark Hughes congratulates Irish striker Jon Walters on a job well done against Manchester City last night Picture: Reuters

Theo Walcott has called on his Arsenal team-mates to ease the mounting pressure on manager Arsene Wenger and wants to see an end to any disharmony in the ranks.

The Gunners were left humbled and humiliated once again as Bayern Munich ran up a 5-1 win at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night to secure a resounding 10-2 aggregate victory in their Champions League round of 16 clash.

Walcott's first-half strike gave the hosts a glimmer of hope before Laurent Koscielny was sent off, with Arsenal disintegrating thereafter.

The result came against a backdrop of supporter unrest following a protest march to the stadium before kick-off, in which some 200 fans chanted and held banners calling for Wenger to leave.

A wretched run of five defeats in their last seven games has left Wenger under intense pressure and the 67-year-old is still yet to decide whether to extend his stay beyond the end of the season.

Focused

But Walcott now wants a reaction from the players to show unity towards their manager - even though he admits they are still in the dark over Wenger's plans. "The manager is focused on us," he said.

"You can see how passionate he is with us from the way he talks to us in the meetings.

"He will take this on himself but us players need to look at ourselves. The manager has been taking a lot of flak in recent weeks and us players have been accepting it but we can't.

"We need to take the pressure off the manager and that will happen by performances. Who knows what the manager will do? Players just want to play football for this club and do well for the manager."

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