Paul Merson continues ‘childish’ war of words with Arsene Wenger

Paul Merson

The two Arsenal legends have been critical of each other through comments in the press this week.

Arsenal manage Arsene Wenger has been growing slowly more and more frustrated with criticism of his side this season

A few weeks ago he reacted standoffishly to post match questions by a BBC reporter after a drawn Premier League match with Hull, and has seen his side labour through their Champions League group and provide one of the worst starts to a league season since he took over in 1996.

And this week Wenger threw out criticism from former Arsenal favourite Paul Merson, after the 46-year-old attacked the Gunners' performance in the 3-3 draw with Anderlecht, where they had been 3-0 up midway through the second half.

The Frenchman said he "he wasn't interested" in the views of Merson who he had "tried" to manage early on in his tenure at the club, and refused to take into account the views of the player considering his limited management experience.

Merson, who spent 12 years in at Arsenal having come through the youth setup at Highbury, responded to the comments from his old boss with surprise, saying: "I think it's childish he's had a dig at me.

"Not interested in Paul Merson? He was begging me to stay when he offered me a new contract.

"I was surprised when I saw what he'd said about me. It shocked me. 

"I respect Arsene Wenger. He's a brilliant manager. When he first came here he was far ahead of his time. But times change.

"He's got to understand it's my job to give an honest opinion. I was at Arsenal 14 years and I only say these things because I care.

"I'm not backing down from what I said, either. You can't go 3-0 up and then draw a game you need to win to qualify."

The former England international also pulled Wenger up on his comments that he had "zero management experience", having spent 2 years in charge of Walsall a decade ago.

"I wasn't a great manager," Merson admitted. "But I don't remember drawing a game after going 3-0 up, and I never had a team full of internationals."

Arsenal crashed to defeat against Swansea on Sunday, and now have as many losses as defeats from their last 6 league games heading into the international break.

They next play against Manchester United at the Emirates on November 22nd.

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