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HindustanTimes Fri,31 Oct 2014

Football

Arsenal in Euro driving seat now, says Wenger
AFP
London, May 05, 2013
First Published: 07:46 IST(5/5/2013)
Last Updated: 07:48 IST(5/5/2013)

Arsene Wenger believes the momentum is now with Arsenal in the battle to claim a place in next season's Champions League.

Wenger's Arsenal side moved back up to third place following a 1-0 victory at relegated Queens Park Rangers, two points clear of Chelsea ahead of Rafael Benitez's side's trip to face Manchester United.

Unbeaten in eight games, they now have two games remaining and the manager believes maximum points will ensure his side finish in the top four.

"We are on a very strong run," said the manager. "We are ready for a fight and the team is highly focused to do it.

"Definitely the momentum is there. If you look at the points we have made compared to two months ago we are going for it and we make the points.

"Away from home we have won everywhere. We have also had lots of derbies and they are difficult to win."

He added: "I cannot even tell you what results I wish for from the others (Tottenham and Chelsea). A long time ago we focused on us getting the maximum points.

"We have done that nearly because we dropped two points against Everton and Manchester United but we want to win every game and we want to concentrate on doing that."

Theo Walcott struck the decsive goal after just 20 seconds, following up his strike against Manchester United last time out for his 20th goal of the season.

It was the fastest goal of the English Premier League season.

And Wenger believes the winger's scoring return is a reflection of his growing maturity.

"He is 24 now, he is a mature player. He has improved his finishing, he is an improved player," said Wenger.

"His ability to resist an opponent is better, it was similar goal to the one against United."

But Wenger admitted his side had shown some nerves as they were made to work hard for the win by a Rangers side who are facing next season playing in the Championship.

He said: "You could see that this team they have not played under special pressure and with fear in recent months. They had the quality to stay in the Premier League for me. And they made life difficult for us.

"Overall we played maybe as though the points were vital for us today."

Harry Redknapp was impressed by his side's response after the disappointment of being relegated.

"Their heads could have dropped after that start, but they put in a shift and were fantastic. I was really pleased the display," said the QPR boss.

"It'll be a different team next year. People keep on about lack of spirit. It's been a lack of other stuff. We've not lacked spirit.

"We've lacked people to score goals and ability in certain areas. Not spirit. I've known for weeks who I'd like to keep."

Andros Townsend was the home side's best player but Redknapp ruled out any chance of keeping the on-loan Tottenham winger.

"He'll be in the Premier League again next year. He'll go back to Tottenham and either play there or somewhere else in the Premier League," he said.

"He was a great loan signing, a couple of thousand pound a week. He's back playing today despite a hamstring a couple of weeks ago Fantastic."


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