Belfast Telegraph

Wenger: Arsenal have the fight

Arsene Wenger is in no doubt Arsenal have the fight to battle their way back into the Barclays Premier League title race.

The Gunners host Liverpool on Sunday looking to close the seven-point gap on leaders Manchester United, who tackle local rivals City in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.

Wenger said: "I told you many times I am very proud to manage this team because they are focused, they want to do well. Unfortunately we have been hit very hard, but we have not been out of every competition early on having not performed. This team has given absolutely everything to perform in every competition and we are still today in the championship."

Wenger's men returned to winning ways at Blackpool last weekend following a run of three successive draws which had threatened to derail their title bid.

Striker Robin van Persie and midfielder Abou Diaby were involved in a half-time bust-up at Bloomfield Road, where the Gunners had been 2-0 ahead before the Tangerines fought back only to be hit on the break as the visitors ran out 3-1 winners.

Wenger feels such show of emotions - the Dutchman unhappy with his team-mate's needless booking which left him walking a disciplinary tightrope - is evidence Arsenal do have what it takes to claw their way back in contention ahead of the showdown with United at Emirates Stadium on May 1.

"They are two good friends who get on very well. Van Persie was concerned about Diaby getting a first yellow card and that he gets a second one because we all have in our memories what happened at Newcastle [when Diaby was sent off]. Diaby accepted it and said 'okay'," Wenger said.

"Of course I am pleased [about the passion]. I never was worried about the mentality of the team.

"Nobody takes into consideration that in football you lose sometimes, but it is as well how you lose."


From Belfast Telegraph