Belfast Telegraph

Wenger expects top-four finish

Arsene Wenger remains confident Arsenal have the strength of character needed to force themselves back into the top four of the Barclays Premier League.

The Gunners head to Sunderland this weekend on the back of a 7-1 thrashing of Blackburn at Emirates Stadium, which was a welcome first league win of 2012 and reduced the gap on fourth-placed Chelsea, who drew with Manchester United, to three points.

Wenger's men are set to host four of the five sides currently above them over the coming weeks, and the Arsenal manager feels the team can produce the needed consistency, telling the club's official website: "We still have real hope that we can finish the season the strongest."

He added: "We have a good spirit and desire within the group - and we have quality. We know that with the position we are in we need an exceptional consistency, so that is the challenge we have in front of us at Sunderland."

Arsenal' defensive worries have eased somewhat in recent games with the return to match fitness of Bacary Sagna, while fellow full-back Kieran Gibbs is also close to being in contention again after his groin problems.

Switzerland international Johan Djourou did not feature in the squad for Blackburn.

The 25-year-old, though, appears to remain very much part of Wenger's plans, with the Switzerland Football Association posting an article announcing Djourou - who came up through the Arsenal youth ranks - had agreed a contract extension until 2015.

Press Association Sport understands confirmation will come from Arsenal later on Wednesday.

Djourou, who posted a link to the story via his Twitter account, said on "I like this club and I want to stay here as long as possible.

"I currently work in the background, waiting for another chance to show my potential. I have confidence in the future."


From Belfast Telegraph