Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger says his side face a huge ‘test of character’ when they face north London rivals Tottenham on Wednesday.
Wenger’s side go into the English Premier League grudge match at White Hart Lane knowing they have to win to keep their fading title hopes alive, after falling six points behind Manchester United with just six games left.
And having won just one of their last five league games, Wenger admits his side must pick themselves up if they are to beat a side which is itself chasing a top-four spot.
“It is a big test of character,” said the Frenchman, who has come under pressure from fans unhappy as the club’s trophy drought appears set to extend into a sixth year.
“I had a few (tests). In 15 years (in charge of Arsenal) you go through a few tests. The time is very short to recover, it is important to recover quickly.”
“We have not to go with any fear into the game. We have to go with the desire to win and to play. We will not stand at the back and wait for Spurs to play, we will try to play.”
“And Tottenham have come up in the last two years – they have moved forward. The competition always becomes harder and harder for everybody at the top.”
But Wenger has refused to dwell on last season’s corresponding fixture between the two sides, when a Danny Rose thunderbolt and a strike from Gareth Bale dealt Arsenal’s title hopes a huge blow as they lost 2-1.
He added: “You do not learn (from that game). A player who never played (Rose) put it in the top of the net. You can never learn from that because that can happen any day in football.”
“The good thing is that it doesn’t always happen. It is a derby and it is a big game for us. It is a game where a lot is at stake and last year it was the same.”
Arsenal have no new injury worries going into the game, and have been bolstered by the news that Bacary Sagna is almost certain to return at right-back after missing the last two games with a knee injury.
That will mean Emmanuel Eboue – who gave away the last-minute penalty in the 1-1 draw with Liverpool on Sunday – is likely to drop to the bench, while Manuel Almunia and Denilson are also both available.
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