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Pressure mounting on Arsenal, Arsene Wenger

Feb 18, 2013, 8:25 AM EDT

Bradford City v Arsenal - Capital One Cup Quarter Final Getty Images

Never a good sign when coaches throw players under the bus. (Technically speaking, they call it a “motor coach” there … but let’s stay on point.)

So much for “All in it together,” eh?

It is not much of a surprise, however. The pressure is mounting on Arsenal and longtime manager Arsene Wenger as chances of claiming something to hang their hats on for 2012-13 slip away. That’s bad news for Wenger, now creeping slowly toward “embattled” state at the club.

The venerable Frenchman has long had his critics. That’s bound to happen to someone with as many years in one place as Wenger, who is 63 and has been at the north London club since 1996.

While domestic success has been elusive in recent years, Wenger usually does have Champions League to circle on the ledger of accomplishment. (Not winning the thing, but reliably advancing into the competition’s money rounds.) And the club may have another UCL brag or two in them; the Gunners are set to open a high-profile Round-of-16 set against Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich. Tuesday’s opening leg is at the Emirates.

What does the club’s mindset look like ahead of Tuesday’s clash? Hard to say, but it may not be great. Check out what Wenger had to say about his players following the weekend loss to Blackburn, eliminating Arsenal from FA Cup action:

I think we have a great team, but this shows that we still have to show more maturity on the mental front. We have to understand what it means to win big games, and this was a big game for me.

“I am the first to stand up and say I am responsible for the team selection, but that is not an excuse. If we cannot beat Blackburn like that, I don’t think it is down to the selection of the team.

“The top level is about consistency in every single game and that is what we could not show.”

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