Football - Wenger calls for players to respond

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has challenged his team to ignore people writing them off as no-hopers after crashing out of the FA Cup 1-0 to Blackburn and show their true character against European giants Bayern Munich on Tuesday night.

PA Sport

The Gunners' campaign suffered another setback on Saturday when although dominating the npower Championship team at the Emirates Stadium, they were knocked out by a scrappy second-half goal from former Arsenal trainee Colin Kazim-Richards.

Despite Sunday morning's negative headlines and criticism of his team selection - which saw Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla all start on the bench - Wenger insists how his men now respond will go on to define the outcome of what has been one of the most testing seasons of his time in charge.

"You can take a distance in terms of what people say and show how strong and good you are in the next game," said Wenger, who suffered defeat against lower league opposition in the FA Cup for the first time.

"It is a good opportunity to show that we have character and are men who can fight for each other."

Arsenal were also knocked out of the Capital One Cup in a match they had been expected to win when losing at npower League One Bradford on penalties in December.

Wenger, though, maintains he had not taken Saturday's clash lightly, despite what lay ahead in Europe next week.

"It is very disappointing that the two (cup defeats) have happened in the same season, but I prepared these two in the same way that I did in the 16 years before," he said.

"I couldn't see how we could lose this game because we always had the ball and they had one shot on goal, but they defended well.

"It was the kind of game you can lose if you make a mistake at the back and that's what we did. We gave them the game, basically."

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