Belfast Telegraph

Wenger misses mind games of title race

Arsene Wenger is not sure whether mind games seep through to the dressing room - but the Arsenal manager admits he would "love" to be involved with all the banter again as the championship race closes in.

There has been plenty of hot air from both sides of Manchester as United and City battle it out for Barclays Premier League supremacy.

And as the Gunners prepare to square up to City on Sunday for a game Blues boss Roberto Mancini has deemed crucial to the title, Wenger admitted: "I would prefer to be in there, what you want is to be involved in the title race and we were not."

Mancini remains defiant ahead of the clash at the Emirates Stadium - where his side could kick off eight points behind should United complete an expected home win over QPR - with the Italian proclaiming "anything can happen" over the final seven games.

Wenger has been through plenty of psychological warfare with old rival Sir Alex Ferguson through the years, and revealed a tinge of regret he was not still in the thick of it all as his side now look to secure third place at the end of one of the most testing campaigns in his 16 at the helm.

"You observe from outside... That is basically sad, but I don't think that until now, from the mind games I have seen, it has had a direct influence on results," Wenger said.

"The newspapers always like that, but we could never measure the influence of that on the players.

"I was in that situation many times - when you lose they think you lost the mind games and when you win they say you won the mind games, but I am not completely sure that it has a massive influence on the players.

"If it unsettles them then it can have an influence. One famous example that the press always gives is [former Newcastle manager] [Kevin] Keegan [outburst on live TV in 1996] so it can sometimes make a manager nervous, but Mancini looks quite calm."

Wenger hopes third place, and with it automatic qualification for the Champions League, would allow him a stronger hand in the summer transfer market, and said: "Where we finish and how we finish will determine what we do in the break."

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