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Black Cat Bruce brands Wenger critics 'ridiculous'

Steve Bruce has said criticism of Arsene Wenger is "ridiculous" as he attempts to pile more pressure on the under-fire Arsenal boss.

The Sunderland manager takes his side to the Emirates Stadium tomorrow knowing exactly how the Frenchman feels after having to deal with the fall-out from the Black Cats' own poor start to the new season.

However, he is aware that the focus on a manager who has spent much of his time with the Gunners at the business end of four competitions is magnified many more times.

Bruce said: "We are all open to criticism, but Arsene Wenger and what he has achieved, to criticise him is, for me, ridiculous. He has had a poor start for the first time in 20 years, is it? Certainly, he has qualified for UEFA (Cup) or the Champions League in the last 14 or 15 and produced great teams.

"It gives us all hope, I have to say, if we have got the audacity to question Arsene Wenger. What he has achieved there, it's quite remarkable."

Tomorrow's game represents a clash between the sides currently sitting in 15th and 16th places in the Premier League table, with Arsenal only a point better off than this weekend's visitors.

That is way below expectations for both, although with the Gunners, who have won only two of their seven league games to date but are perennial members of the top-four club, their plight seems all the more extreme.

However, Bruce is convinced that, just like his old mentor Alex Ferguson, Wenger will succeed in his latest rebuilding mission.

Bruce will travel south without Arsenal loanee Nicklas Bendtner, who is ineligible, and that could mean a first Premier League start for either South Korea international Ji Dong-won or English U21 man Connor Wickham.