Arsenal assistant Steve Bould insists Arsene Wenger remains as hungry as ever to bring success to the club.
Manager Wenger has come in for fierce criticism from some quarters again this season as the Gunners sit 33 points adrift of Premier League leaders Manchester City.
There is also a 13-point gap to Tottenham in fourth and a return to the Champions League now seemingly hangs on winning the Europa League, the club’s last chance of silverware this season.
But even Europa League success will still be deemed by some as not enough to keep Wenger in the dugout.
The Frenchman was absent from his usual pre-match press conference duties on Thursday due to losing his voice, with former Arsenal defender Bould stepping in.
Wenger, speaking to BeIN Sports during the international break, claimed some of the negativity aimed at him was “age discrimination” but Bould believes he is still ready for the challenge after over 21 years at the helm.
Asked if Wenger’s desire to win is as strong as ever, he said: “Absolutely, he’s remarkable.
“Behind closed doors I’ve never known someone who’s as hungry and determined to win football games. It (the hunger) is as big as I’ve ever seen, yes, for sure.
“I admire him immensely. He takes unbelievable stick off an awful lot of people and he’s just one of the great managers. It’s a pleasure for me to sit next to him.”
Stoke, another of Bould’s former clubs, are the visitors to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
The Potters sit 19th in the table having not won in their last seven games but secured a 1-0 victory over Arsenal in the reverse fixture back in August.
Arsenal will have one eye on Thursday’s visit of CSKA Moscow in the Europa League quarter-finals but Jack Wilshere could be involved despite missing both England internationals due to a minor knee complaint.
The 26-year-old returned to Arsenal for treatment and Bould insists there is no issue between club and country over the latest injury scare for Wilshere.
“Jack trained yesterday so he’s OK,” he added.
“I don’t know where the issues or the reports are coming from to be honest with you. Jack had a bit of a knee problem I think, but he’s come back and he’s fine. As far as I’m aware, there’s no issue.”
Alexandre Lacazette could also be in contention for his first appearance since the 1-0 defeat to Tottenham on February 10.
The France international underwent knee surgery following the loss but his return to fitness is timely given fellow striker and club-record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is cup-tied in the Europa League.