Wenger: Gunners not fragile
Arsene Wenger insists Arsenal are not "fragile", but admits the players need a lift ahead of Saturday's visit of Premier League strugglers QPR.
It has been a testing spell for the Gunners since the international break, with successive lacklustre defeats at Norwich and then at home to Schalke in the Champions League setting up a heated annual general meeting at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday, where chairman Peter Hill-Wood, chief executive Ivan Gazidis and majority shareholder Stan Kroenke were all heckled.
Wenger used his address to call for a sense of perspective of what the club have achieved up against the limitless spending power of their rivals.
The Arsenal manager later told reporters there was no question over the character of his squad, just that they perhaps needed some reassurances, with defender Per Mertesacker admitting confidence had dipped.
"I don't say that the players are fragile, but you could see against Schalke that we played all right in the first half, but slowly we dropped. Is it physical or confidence? It is difficult to know," Wenger said.
"Mertesacker is right. This team cares - sometimes you are surprised that they care so much, they do.
"When you don't get the result the confidence goes quickly. That is part of the quality you have to show, that we are capable of dealing with that."
Wenger continued: "The result at Norwich maybe affected them more than they would think. It shows that maybe we overrated a little bit the difficulty in Norwich.
"Chelsea was a big disappointment, but we didn't come out of the game and think that Chelsea were stronger than us - we were stupid as we made mistakes.
"Norwich was a bit of a different shock because we never created chances and that much more affected the team."
Wenger has several first team players recovering from injury, but for England midfielder Jack Wilshere it is now a case of getting match sharpness, with a run-out pencilled in for the Capital One Cup tie at Reading ahead of a trip to Manchester United.
"Physically he is at 80 to 85%," said Wenger.
"What you have to consider first is that he has no setback and that you don't put players in situations where they pick up an injury, that is what you look at.
"After if you look at a more selfish view you can say a guy can play an hour, but during this hour it is important that he is fit enough to play.
"It is difficult to plan."
Midfielder Abou Diaby and goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny are still a couple of weeks away from a return, but forward Theo Walcott should be in contention for Old Trafford.
The 23-year-old has yet to agree a contract extension, but Wenger remains ever hopeful.
He said: "Theo will be available for next week, on the rest we are still working."