It wouldn’t have been the expectations of most Arsenal supporters that following the promising end to the last campaign and the huge ambition shown by the acquisitions before this season, a top four battle would still be the maximum being pursued by February. Now, though, we are in that familiar position again were everyone is begging for it to happen, and Wenger is feeling bullish about his chances of retaining his trophy again.
“Every year we have been under threat until the last game,” he said, per Arsenal’s official website.
“Every year we’ve managed to do it. We have a good opportunity to show that we have the strength to deal with that pressure and that we have the quality – I’m completely convinced we have the quality.”
For most of the previous seasons, Spurs have been the main challengers for that top four spot but the inclusion of Liverpool, United and Southampton have made it more of a complex task this time. Saturday’s derby defeat has not helped the possibility of finishing above Spurs or even making the top four but the man who has never failed to do so in his 18-year Arsenal career feels with a good review of the team’s game, the status quo should remain.
“We have to deal with our performances. The criticism is always there when you lose a game now. I don’t take it personally. What I take personally is to lose a game.
“We are responsible for what we produce on the pitch and we have to continue to move forward and deal with all the rest. The rest is not to influence us. What is important is that our ambition and the way we want to play has to be the strongest influence.”
After winning with a defensively minded game at City and thrashing Aston Villa in an attacking spree, striking a good balance was going to be the fierce test against a Pochettino team who have gained a reputation of pressing teams into submission. Ultimately, Arsenal could not play much of the attacking game characteristic of Wenger’s teams. There will be a need to be more in equilibrium between those two ends of tactics which, if done at a consistent basis, should see the team through.
“It’s a long way to go. It will be tight for everybody and that’s what it is about. It’s about the team with the most consistency and I feel we have shown that we can deal with that kind of pressure in the past. I’m confident we can do it again.”
Wenger made a point of the fact that it will be down to Arsenal’s home form at the end of the season as Tottenham have 2 more away games than the Gunners remaining. Those will include trips to the Etihad, Old Trafford and some of the slippery team at the base. Not like it will be easy for the Gunners who will welcome Chelsea, Liverpool and Everton between now and April.
Yet, Wenger believes he will do it again. If he’s done it 18 times, I wonder who I am to not agree.
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