Belfast Telegraph

Gunners ready for aerial combat

Arsene Wenger admits Arsenal will have to "combat" Stoke's aerial threat at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday, but feels the Gunners can play their way to victory.

Arsenal do not have the best of records at Stoke, winning on just one of the last four visits, but Wenger believes that if his team play to their own strengths, the Gunners can get the victory needed to stay on track for third place.

"We have to combat in the air because with [Peter] Crouch up front, he is technically good, he can bring other people in, but as well we cannot forget to put the ball down and play our game," Wenger said.

"We are ready to win. If you think are we ready to win petty, it depends what you call petty, but we will be faithful to the way we play football, that is for sure.

"We will not compete with Stoke playing an unusual game, we can only win if we play our game. We will be faithful to trying to play football well."

Arsenal have forced themselves back up into the top four of the Premier League with a fine run of form.

However, there is still some work ahead to secure third place, after losing at home to Wigan and then being held to a goalless draw by Chelsea just 72 hours before their famous result in Barcelona. Should the Blues go on to win the Champions League and fail to finish in the top four, then they would usurp one of their rivals to enter the group stages.

Wenger's men currently lead Newcastle by three points, but have played a match more.

While the Arsenal manager feels the rule is "not completely fair", he also believes it would be "illogical" for the holders not to be able to defend the title.

"It is the rule that everybody knows before the season starts, nobody complained and if Chelsea win then England will have four clubs represented in the Champions League. We have to accept it," Wenger said.

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