Wilshere defends Arsenal's character

Arsenal concede at Watford

Jack Wilshere says Arsenal's character is not in question after criticism from Watford striker Troy Deeney.

Deeney said that Arsenal lacked 'cojones' in their 2-1 defeat at Vicarage Road, with former Gunner Martin Keown saying the players lack determination.

Midfielder Wilshere said: "As a player if your attitude is questioned, it's horrible.

"I don't think the comments were justified. All we can do is perform."

Arsenal face Red Star Belgrade on Thursday evening top of their Europa League group with maximum points from their opening two games.

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But the Gunners have lost three of their eight games in the Premier League to fall nine points behind leaders Manchester City already.

"I look around this team and you can't question our character," said Wilshere.

"People try and put us down, they always have.

"We did certain things wrong at Watford but we certainly didn't want to let the lead slip. We will move on."

Manager Arsene Wenger said: "We don't listen too much to what people say, I know who my players really are.

"I love my players and I trust their strength of character to respond quickly."

'Our fans have already won'

Red Star Belgrade manager Vladan Milojevic:

"Arsenal's defeats in the Premier League do not fool us - they are still an excellent team.

Gary Speed

"Even if they fielded a rotated team, that wouldn't mean that they are underestimating us - Arsene Wenger doesn't ever underestimate anyone.

"We'll host one of the best clubs in the world, a club that competes in, what is for me, Europe's strongest league.

"It is a sell-out, our fans have already won. Now it's up to us to do the same. We're in it together."

Team news

Right-back Mathieu Debuchy is in line for his first start in 11 months, after 16 minutes of action for Arsenal since November 2015.

Petr Cech will start in goal while Danny Welbeck (hamstring) and Santi Cazorla (ankle) are among a host of first-team players not to travel.

Red Star are two points behind Arsenal and would top the group with a win.

How likely are Arsenal to progress?

Sports data specialists Gracenote Sports have simulated the remainder of the Europa League group phase one million times based on their current ratings for the clubs involved and their results to date, and have come up with a probability percentage of each side progressing to the knockout stage.

Simon Gleave, head of analysis at Gracenote Sports, said: "Arsenal were the most likely team to progress to the Europa League knockout phase before and after the draw was made.

"Their two wins have taken their chance up to 99.8%, the highest of any of the competing clubs."


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