Paul Lambert believes criticism of Arsene Wenger is over the top as he prepares to take his Stoke side to the Emirates Stadium.
The pressure on the Arsenal boss from the club’s fans has hit a peak during this campaign, with the Gunners looking certain to finish outside the top four in the Premier League for a second successive season.
Lambert, speaking to reporters ahead of the Sunday’s game, live on Sky Sports Premier League, said: “If he’s getting criticism then we can all get it. It’s ludicrous to say he’s out of touch with the level of success he’s had and everything he’s done. If you can just get a part of that success then you’re doing all right yourself.
“It’s never nice to see a fellow manager [face that], regardless of how long you’ve been at a football club. I don’t agree with it. He’s a victim of his own success really, the amount of trophies he has won and high-level trophies. He’s transformed so many players.”
Arsenal are 13 points adrift of the top four but go into Sunday’s clash on a high after three successive wins, including two against AC Milan in the Europa League, which could yet give them a route into the Champions League next season.
“I don’t think they’re a team in decline,” added Lambert. “I think maybe a lot of their focus will be on the Europa League, because if you win that you go into the Champions League.
“They’ve been a terrific football club in Europe as well and I still think they’re a really top side with some really top players. The bar’s been raised by Man City – I think Man City are a team who are out on their own at the minute – but I still think Arsenal are a really good side.”
Stoke are desperate for points down the other end of the table but have lost on all nine previous visits to the Emirates – a sore point for fans given the needle between the two clubs. Not that any of that will concern Lambert.
He said: “I know there’s maybe history between the clubs but this is new for me. You respect the history at any football club but I don’t go into the game thinking what’s happened before, I go and try and win for my own team.”