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Tottenham v Arsenal: Wenger wants response in pivotal derby

Arsene Wenger has called on Arsenal to bounce back when they visit arch-rivals Tottenham on Saturday in a crucial game for the Premier League title race.

Both sides suffered damaging defeats on Wednesday, with Spurs losing 1-0 at West Ham and the Gunners falling to a shock 2-1 home reverse to Swansea City.

Those results left second-placed Tottenham three points adrift of leaders Leicester City, while Arsenal are now six behind top spot after a third consecutive defeat in all competitions.

Should Wenger’s team fall to a fourth-straight loss – a sequence they have not suffered since October 2002 – at the weekend, their faltering title bid will surely be over.

The Frenchman feels their loss to Swansea was unfortunate, but wants to see a strong recovery against their neighbours, who they have only beaten once in seven league games at White Hart Lane.

Wenger said: “We had all the ingredients to win the game, but football is football – it is cruel sometimes. We need to live with that and show that we can bounce back.

“At the moment we are lacking confidence in front of goal and we have to deal with that. We need to get back to positive results before we speak about the championship which is at stake at the moment.

“It is very difficult as it is unpredictable. Manchester City lost, Tottenham lost. It is very difficult to predict what will happen in this league.

“[The other results] mean we are mathematically still in the game. We have to bounce back quickly and realise that we have a difficult game and prepare well.”

The defeat to Swansea was made worse by goalkeeper Petr Cech suffering calf injury that means he will miss a league game for the first time this season, with David Ospina to step in, while Laurent Koscielny (calf) will also not return in time.

Mousa Dembele is expected to be in contention for Spurs after a groin problem, with Mauricio Pochettino insisting his squad are not cracking under the pressure despite losing at Upton Park.

He said: “We have a lot of games ahead, but Saturday is a very important game to keep our position in the table.

“We lost to West Ham but it is not nerves, it is difficult to play every game in the intensity or level we normally have. But I am happy with the effort we showed, it was fantastic. 

“We deserved more but when you don’t score it is difficult to take positive things. I think the players are confident, it was only one game – our fourth defeat in the Premier League season – it’s not that we feel the pressure.”

A Mathieu Flamini double gave Arsenal a 2-1 League Cup win at White Hart Lane in September, while the reverse league fixture at Emirates Stadium was a 1-1 draw after Kieran Gibbs cancelled out Harry Kane’s strike.

Key Opta stats:

– Harry Kane has scored three goals in two Premier League appearances against Arsenal.
– Arsenal have taken the most points from the head to heads between this season’s top four (10), while Spurs have eight.
– Arsenal have scored in 41 of their last 42 meetings with Tottenham in all competitions.

Thu 3 Mar, 2016
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