Belfast Telegraph

Wenger wants players to relax

Arsene Wenger has called on Arsenal to relax and rediscover their free-flowing football over the closing games of the season, but feels his side remain in the driving seat to secure third place in the Barclays Premier League.

The Gunners laboured through a goalless draw with Chelsea at Emirates Stadium on Saturday, unable to produce a convincing response to the shock home defeat by Wigan at the start of the week.

"We are still in the driving seat but of course we have to win our next three games," Wenger told reporters. "It is not all negative because we played against a Chelsea team who decided to lock the game and try to catch us on the break. We lacked a bit of spontaneous change of pace in our passing and could not open them up enough."

The Blues offered little in way of attacking threat, with perhaps more than one eye on next week's Champions League semi-final second leg in Barcelona, where they will defend a slender 1-0 lead.

Nevertheless, Arsenal struggled to break down the determined visitors, but did hit the woodwork twice in the first half through captain Robin van Persie, who produced another jaded performance, and centre-back Laurent Koscielny.

Wenger was already without injured midfield playmaker Mikel Arteta, while Czech winger Tomas Rosicky had to go off on 65 minutes after battling against a virus and Theo Walcott limped off with a hamstring injury which will end his season.

The Gunners manager, however, maintained there was still all to play for, starting at Stoke next weekend, when his side will aim to keep ahead of fourth-placed Newcastle and Tottenham, who lost at QPR.

He added: "My players have shown a lot of character, but we lacked just a bit of what is usually our strength, which is the speed of our passing to open teams up with our combination play.

"We didn't pass the ball quickly enough. Chelsea are experienced enough to force you to play the ball where they want you to play it. We could not open them up enough and our change of pace in the game was not good enough.

"What it means is that we have to win the rest of our games."

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