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Wenger claims Arsenal advantage

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes his side still have the advantage in the race for the top four over arch-rivals Tottenham.

The Gunners entertain Reading at home this weekend while Spurs travel to Swansea, with Wenger’s side four points behind Andre Villas-Boas’ men.

And Wenger is confident the Gunners can secure a Champions League berth for a 16th consecutive season, despite trailing Spurs by four points.

The Frenchman told reporters: “We have experience of a few years. We have a special desire to do it together.

“That’s a good opportunity for us because we are back with a very good chance to do it (finish top four). We want to grab this chance.

“We just want to continue our form. Bayern and Swansea is a good inspiration to continue our run-in. There are nine games to go. We play five at home and four away.”

Arsenal have picked up their form at just the right time and Wenger believes consistency can help his team secure the much-coveted fourth place.

He added: “With the form we have shown, at Bayern and at Swansea, I think we have a very good chance to finish in the top four.

“We know that if we are consistent, we will do it. We do not focus on Tottenham at all. We focus on the way we want to play and on our results. If we are consistent in the last nine games, we will do it.”

Arsenal face a relatively simple run-in in contrast to some of their rivals, having to face just one side above them in the table – Manchester United – between now and the end of the season.

Wenger believes his side should not limit their targets for the rest of the campaign, with plenty of points up for grabs.

“Honestly, we don’t have any speculation on any weakness of our opponent,” he said. “We just think there is a number of wins you want. It can be to get in front of them or anybody else.

“Nobody is out of reach – apart from Manchester United.

“I haven’t seen any kind fixtures since the start of the season. The results in the Premier League have shown that. When you fight against a team who fights not to go down in the Premier League, you prepare yourself to be at your best, knowing that it can be very difficult.

“What we want is to be inspired by our last two games and go into the next one with the same attitude, and I’m sure we will.”

The pressure is firmly on the Gunners, who have had another desperately disappointing season so far.

Wenger believes the test posed by a Reading side with a new manager in Nigel Adkins is one his players must overcome.

He added: “You want me to say we are under pressure, and I say yes.

“We want to use this pressure in a positive way, that means as a stimulating incitement to play our best football. When you speak about maturity, that is where we can show that we have maturity.

“When a new manager takes charge, there’s always concentration and hope. I think Brian (McDermott) did an excellent job there, similar to Adkins at Southampton. He (Adkins) got a chance again.

“It’s sad to see Brian McDermott go, but we will be on our toes and know that we play against a team that fights not to go down.

“We fight to be in the top four and therefore it’s just as important that we focus on what we want to do.”

Fri 29 March, 2013
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