Martinez baffled by Wenger criticism

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (front) and Everton's Roberto Martinez
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (front) and Everton's Roberto Martinez

ROBERTO Martinez insists under-pressure Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger should be considered a pioneer of the game and has stressed the Frenchman’s club can still win the Barclays Premier League title this term.

The Gunners’ season has unravelled in recent weeks and after exiting the Champions League and FA Cup within the space of four days, Wenger is in danger of failing to deliver a trophy unless they can bridge an 11-gap to leaders Leicester in the league.

The clamour for his 20-year reign in North London to end is growing louder following a run of one win in eight games and four in the past 15, yet such criticism baffles Martinez, whose Everton side host the Gunners this weekend.

“It’s the modern times there’s almost a need to have an opinion and criticise the losing team,” the Spaniard said.

“It seems it doesn’t matter what you’ve done in a football club, how you’ve built it or if you’ve been the best manager in the last 20 years in European football - the modern game is ruthless.

“On the back of a defeat you are going to get criticised. Everyone has got an opinion, everyone knows better than you and that’s disappointing.”

Ex-Wigan midfielder Martinez had only been in England one year when Wenger first moved to Arsenal and transformed their culture with revolutionary methods that the current Toffees boss believes have influenced plenty.

“I know what Arsene Wenger has done as a manager - bringing a very clear way of working, a completely different, new approach into football,” he added. “The management that he brought into the British game has changed British football.

“What he has achieved at Arsenal is a model that many, many football people have been inspired by. The short-term situation of one or two results sometimes overshadows the incredible work over the years.

“The style that Arsene Wenger represents shouldn’t just be put aside. It’s just a reflection of the modern times when we are easily led to criticise a manager who has done incredible things in the game.”

Catching Leicester at this stage of the campaign would be considered one of Wenger’s more impressive achievements, though Martinez is not ready to write them off as title contenders.

“In my eyes, they still have a real good opportunity to win the league,” he said.

“A lot has been said about Leicester, and rightly so, because the five-point lead at this moment is a huge gap. But, with the three-point system, the distance is smaller than people think.

“Arsenal, with the experience that they have, the know-how, the clarity and the way they play football - it doesn’t matter what pressure is on them they will always play with a certain style and be very, very good in that style.

“I just feel Arsenal are still strong title contenders and that’s what we’re going to be facing at Goodison.”

Everton will have Leighton Baines and Muhamed Besic available for the game, while Bryan Oviedo could feature following a chest infection but Gareth Barry and Kevin Mirallas are suspended.