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Arsenal still pride of north London: Wenger

 

By Jim Van Wijk

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger admits Tottenham may be the favourites for tomorrow's derby but insists there is no power shift taking place between the fierce north London rivals.

The Gunners make the short trip to White Hart Lane with Spurs still in the title race as Arsenal face an uphill battle to finish in the top four.

Tottenham have not finished above their neighbours in the Premier League since 1995 but Mauricio Pochettino's side can break that run with a win.

Arsenal have enjoyed a mini revival in the last week with victory over Manchester City taking them to the FA Cup final and a narrow win over Leicester keeping their Champions League qualification hopes alive.

But after an alarming drop in form which saw fans call for Wenger to leave, it is now almost inconceivable that those supporters will be toasting 'St Totteringham's Day' - the name given to the date when they are assured of finishing above Spurs - this year.

"It's certainly one of the few times where, if you look at people's opinions, Spurs are favourites," said Wenger. "It looks a bit like that but it doesn't matter too much to me.

"Let's make sure that the best happens and give absolutely everything to make sure that we finish in a very strong way."

This will be Wenger's 50th, and potentially final, north London derby as he still refuses to reveal if he will sign a new deal.

Of the previous 49, the Frenchman has won 22 and lost only seven, and having always guided his side to finish above their nearest rivals Wenger does not see one season below them as a sign that things are changing.

"The priority for us is to finish in the top four," he said. "After that, for the pride and the continuity or our achievements, yes we want to fight to be in front of Spurs. We have to focus on what is really important to us at this moment, which is the top four.

"I've answered that question about a shift in power over 18 years. Nothing changes in that."

Asked if Tottenham need to do more over a longer period of time to challenge Arsenal, Wenger replied: "I think so. You cannot say that the weight of one year has the weight of 20."

Shkodran Mustafi is missing with a thigh problem while Wenger rates Laurent Koscielny's chances at "60 per cent" after he suffered a knee injury.

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