Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Wenger confident ahead of final match

Arsene Wenger

Arsene Wenger has challenged Arsenal to play the game and not the occasion as they bid to secure a place in the Champions League at West Brom on Sunday.

With a slender one-point lead over Tottenham and two over Newcastle, there is little margin for further error by an Arsenal team that has drawn the last three games.

Wenger, who wants to keep things simple as he targets victory, said: "We have a massive game in front of us, but I feel we are focused, switched on. I am confident we will do well. For us it is just to find the right mixture - to be focused, combative and relaxed, and especially be faithful to play our football like we want to."

He added: "We have known final days like this before, games where we have played for championships, or qualifying for the Champions League. It is a fantastic opportunity for us, that of course we want to take. We are used to coping with that. At the end of the day, it's playing football.

"If we have more of the ball than West Brom, like we want to have, we will have more chances to win the game. That is what we will focus on. Just be faithful to the way we want to play football."

Wenger, who does not feel Roy Hodgson's farewell should play any part in his side's approach, went on to say: "I expect our opponents to play at their best and we will adjust our performance to that and prepare ourselves to face an opponent that are focused and motivated.

"We are never disappointed when we imagine that because we got that against Stoke, we got that against Norwich. So we prepare, consequently, to face a normal game."

Following an appalling start to the campaign which saw Arsenal lose four of their first seven league games and be thumped 8-2 at Manchester United, just to be in this position is an achievement in itself - although they have been helped by rivals Spurs' inconsistency.

"Three months ago, everybody would be happy to go into the final game with that - ask our opponents, who were 10 or 15 points in front of us," said Wenger.

"We came from a deep position in the league, but if you look at the way we have made it to where we are today, I think it is remarkable."