(Reuters) - West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini has urged supporters to stick with their team after a losing start to the Premier League campaign.
Pellegrini last weekend noted that a lot of supporters at the London Stadium had left early as West Ham let a one-goal lead slip to suffer a 2-1 defeat by Bournemouth.
The Argentine moved to clarify his comments on Thursday, saying the players need all the support possible as they look to claim their first points of the season at Arsenal on Saturday.
“It is not about how much I criticised the fans, it is how much the team needs the fans,” Pellegrini told reporters.
“I perfectly understand if you are losing 4-1 or 5-1 and you have got five minutes till the game finishes, maybe you leave early to your house. But losing 2-1?
“At this moment the players need everybody together, the fans, the team, the manager, the owners, everybody. Maybe the fans had a reason, but I just wanted to clarify, I feel the fans are very important to us.”
Pellegrini confirmed West Ham could be without captain Mark Noble, who has not featured in training this week due to a back problem.
Unai Emery’s Arsenal, like West Ham, have failed to collect points from their first two matches, and Pellegrini reckons it could be a good time to visit the Emirates Stadium.
“Maybe they will be nervous, maybe they will be desperate to win their first game, so I cannot know the reaction of Arsenal’s players at the moment,” he added.
“He (Emery) is a manager who has done well in Spain and in winning the UEFA Europa League and his teams always play good football, so I expect he will do the same at Arsenal.”
Pellegrini has won six of his 12 meetings with Emery, with the pair having locked horns during their time in Spain’s La Liga and in the Champions League.
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by David Holmes