John Hartson defends Arsene Wenger, makes big claim about Arsenal's season

Former Gunners striker John Hartson claims Arsene Wenger is getting too much stick from fans for a season which has been far from a failure.

Former Arsenal striker John Hartson is the latest ex-Gunner to come to the defence of Arsene Wenger, telling talkSPORT that the French manager is getting too much stick for a season which has, in reality, not been that unsuccessful.

Wenger's side look set to end the season without a trophy after being knocked out of both the FA Cup and the Champions League in recent weeks and with the club sitting 11 points behind Premier League leaders Leicester City.

The French manager has been the target of a great deal of frustration and anger from Gunners fans in recent weeks, with a banner proclaiming "Arsene: Thanks for the memories but it's time to say goodbye" resurfacing in the FA Cup fifth roudn replay win over Hull City.

Former club captain Patrick Vieira condemned the banner and his ex-teammate Gilberto Silva claimed fans are being unfair on Wenger, and now Hartson, who was sold to West Ham United soon after Wenger's arrival, has added his voice to the calls for perspective.

The Welshman told talkSPORT: "Arsene Wenger gets more stick than any other manager.

"But if you look at their season - the title is beyond them but they’re going to finish in the top four, they were in the last 16 of the Champions League where they were knocked out by the defending champions and potential winners, and they were in the later stages of the FA Cup and lost their first FA Cup game in three years. Yet he’s still getting an awful amount of stick.

"Alright, they haven’t won a title in 12 years, which is not good enough for a club like Arsenal, but ultimately the amount of stick Arsene Wenger gets… I just can’t get my head around it. He’s made the club masses and masses of money. He’s probably the most successful manager in terms of the money he’s brought in for the club, and it’s all about the money!"

Arsenal fans are likely to be to differ with Hartson's claim that Wenger's success can and should be measured financially, however, with the club likely to be heading for a ninth trophyless season in the 12 years since their last Premier League title triumph.

What will be even harder for Gunners fans to stomach is the manner in which their season has collapsed from competing on three fronts a few weeks ago to be virtually snuffed out.

The win over Everton at Goodison Park at the weekend was only the third in the last 10 league matches since 2 January, and though the Champions League exit to Barcelona was expected and understandable, crashing out of the FA Cup quarter-final at home to Watford was not.

With a game in hand over Leicester and arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur, Wenger's side have eight matches to resurrect their title bid, beginning with a rematch of that FA Cup defeat to the Hornets at the Emirates Stadium in a fortnight's time.

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