Belfast Telegraph

Wenger obsessed with Sunderland

Arsene Wenger has urged his Arsenal team to pounce on Manchester United's slip-up in the Barclays Premier League title race.

Wenger insists his "obsession" is beating Sunderland at Emirates Stadium on Saturday after United's midweek loss at Chelsea left the Gunners trailing by four points with a game in hand. The Arsenal boss wants his players to put Tuesday night's Champions League showdown with Barcelona out of their minds and concentrate on domestic issues.

"The championship is very important. Personally, I cannot believe we play Barcelona next week because my obsession is really Sunderland," he said.

"The obsession is more than the Champions League because for me it's highly important that we take advantage of our situation in the Premier League.

"We battled everywhere since the start of the season against many specialist opinions that we have no chance at all.

"Now that we are in this situation, it would be very dramatic if we would not consider the importance of the game on Saturday."

Arsenal have experienced a tumultuous period over the last three weeks, with their stunning first-leg upset of Barcelona offset by defeat to Birmingham in the Carling Cup final.

The loss at Wembley saw doubts over the team's temperament resurface, but Wenger insists their subsequent 5-0 thrashing of Leyton Orient in the FA Cup proves their character.

"I have learned a lot because every game teaches you things about your team," he said. "I feel that we have gone through highs and lows and what makes the life of a team and a player is how you resist negative emotions and keep your attitude aligned with your goals.

"You could see on Wednesday night that this team is mentally very strong and hungry for success and we look forward. We want to grow stronger and stronger. How the team responded to Sunday's disappointment is remarkable."

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