Arsene Wenger
Arsene Wenger begged me to stay: paul MersonGetty Images

Former Arsenal forward Paul Merson has revealed that Arsene Wenger begged him to stay at the north London club.

Merson had started the feud with Wenger by branding the Gunners tactically clueless after they succumbed to a 3-3 draw against Anderlecht, having led the Belgians for major part of the evening by three goals. The lack of defensive cohesion is unprecedented from the Gunners, who had kept 17 clean sheets last season.

The bulk of the problems is through Wenger's own doings, who had refused to employ a centre-back after Thomas Vermaelen was sold to Barcelona in the summer. Injuries to Laurent Koscielny and Mathieu Debuchy exacerbated the problem at the back where Nacho Monreal has currently been deputised alongside Per Mertesacker.

The draw against Anderlecht, which shattered their dreams of finishing top of the group, was followed by another insipid performance against Swansea, where they squandered yet another lead to rule themselves out of the title race.

"I think it's childish he's had a dig at me. Not interested in Paul Merson? He was begging me to stay when he offered me a new contract," Merson said as quoted by the Mirror.

"I was surprised when I saw what he'd said about me. It shocked me. It's weird.

"I respect Arsene Wenger. He's a brilliant manager. When he first came here he was far ahead of his time. But times change.

"I wasn't a great manager. But I don't remember drawing a game after going 3-0 up, and I never had a team full of internationals," he concluded.

However, Wenger was not to lie low with criticism from his former player and branded Merson a joke, who was sold to Middlesbrough a year into Wenger's reign at Arsenal.