Friday, October 20, 2017

Arsenal are up for a top-four charge, Wenger claims

SoccerNews in English Premier League 12 May 2017

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Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal have the stomach to fight for a top-four Premier League finish as they prepare for Saturday’s tricky trip to Stoke City.

The Gunners beat Southampton 2-0 on Wednesday to move within three points of fourth-place Manchester City with three games to play.

Wenger has only won once from 10 trips to the Potteries as Arsenal manager and could be without Laurent Koscielny (calf) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring) at the weekend.

However, having seen his side pull off numerous last-gasp dashes into Champions League contention over the years, Wenger has backed the current crop to do all they can.

“We have to show it again, we know we have to play to win the games,” he told reporters.

“So [we must] keep the focus on the way we want to play and the team spirit, you could see that the team is together and fights and is ready for it.

“They have to recover now physically and see how everybody recovers for Saturday and see if I need to make some changes.

“Does Koscielny come back or not? How bad is Chamberlain? If he’s not bad, it will be quite welcome because he’s fresh.”

Wenger could include vice-captain Koscielny at the bet365 Stadium, although a solid showing between Rob Holding, Shkodran Mustafi and Nacho Monreal in the defensive three last time out might prompt further rest for the Frenchman.

“He’s got a small chance, he was not far [away from returning], practiced [on Tuesday] but was risky to play him [at Southampton],” Wenger said.

Wenger confirmed Hector Bellerin will replace Oxlade-Chamberlain if the England man is not fit to travel to Stoke and praised the Spain international’s mentality after he was recently jeered by Gunners fans following a gutless defeat at Crystal Palace last month.

“He’s an offensive player, he started as a right midfielder and was transformed into a full-back.

“He’s a player with fantastic mentality. He’s gone through a difficult period when he came back from his ankle injury but I never questioned his attitude and I think he has a great spirit.”

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