Belfast Telegraph

Wenger: Consistency is the key

Arsene Wenger believes the current Barclays Premier League campaign is the most unpredictable he has seen during his time as Arsenal manager.

Having suffered a shock 3-2 defeat to West Brom at home back in September, the Gunners were heading for another loss at the hands of Albion at The Hawthorns before a late rally saw them score twice to salvage a 2-2 draw, although Manchester United's late 1-0 win over Bolton hit their title hopes.

Left to reflect upon a match in which his team dominated possession for long spells but were made to pay for errors at the back, Wenger - appointed Gunners boss in 1996 - said: "That is the Premier League this season. Manchester United have won in the last two minutes, Tottenham drew 0-0 at home with West Ham."

He added: "It is certainly the most level league, with the least predictable results, since I have been in England. When anybody plays against anybody, you cannot predict the result. Individual games are unpredictable, so (the run-in) will be down to consistency and character."

One fixture from Arsenal's remaining nine that looks set to be vital is the clash with United at the Emirates Stadium on May 1 and asked about the possibility of beating Sir Alex Ferguson's side, Wenger said with a smile: "We will."

Arsenal were two goals down just before the hour mark as Peter Odemwingie capitalised on a mix-up between Manuel Almunia and Sebastien Squillaci to add to Steven Reid's early header. The visitors hit back with goals in the 70th minute from Andrey Arshavin and 78th from Robin van Persie, but they were unable to notch a third before the final whistle.

West Brom boss Roy Hodgson was delighted to see his team produce the performance they did given Baggies captain Chris Brunt had been suffering with a fever in the build-up, James Morrison received stitches for a head wound in the first half and Paul Scharner had to come off at the interval with concussion.

West Brom are a point above the relegation zone in 16th place and Hodgson said: "The players were working very hard to try to give the team a good defensive shape, to keep Arsenal in front of us and make life difficult for them.

"I think we were hampered by Scharner's concussion and to some extent by what happened to Morrison, who did perfectly okay but it is incredible he did so well with the gash he has in his forehead.

"All those things considered, I think it was a remarkable effort from the players against a top-class team, to take them so close to a defeat. Unfortunately we couldn't go all the way."


From Belfast Telegraph