Arsene Wenger produced a passionate response to critical comments made by Santi Cazorla about his own Arsenal team-mates in an explosive interview with Spanish publication Sport360 earlier this week.
The Daily Mirror reports how the French tactician defended his under-fire stars after questions were raised about the team spirit, ambition and winning mentality ingrained at the club from within.
It's not clear whether Cazorla's quotes angered Wenger, given his typically diplomatic nature, but his comeback was stern and to the point, and raised a number of pertinent questions about how his side should be judged on a successful campaign.
“You can always improve in our game," he told reporters on Thursday. "When results are not as good, you can always think you can improve.
"There is no perfect team and we will always try to improve our squad and our team.
“This season we lost key players at big important moments of the season, but we have to just to focus on finishing as well as we can.
“We are in a position where we can still do very well until the end of the season, that is what we want. It is not about next season, it is about this season."
After falling away in the Premier League title race, Arsenal's only remaining hopes of winning a trophy comes in the form of the FA Cup, with Wenger's men set to take on holders Wigan Athletic in the semi-final at Wembley on Saturday.
“We are in the semi-finals of the FA Cup, you cannot say that we have been invited to play there," the 64-year-old added.
"We have beaten all of the teams we have been confronted with by producing top-level performances.”
Cazorla is likely to feature for Arsenal this weekend despite his outspoken comments, particularly with fitness doubts over fellow midfielders Tomas Rosicky and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Wenger did confirm, however, that fit-again Aaron Ramsey is in line to start at Wembley.
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