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Arsenal focuses on maintaining lead

After unbeaten run ends, Arsenal focuses on maintaining Premier League lead.

sports Updated: Nov 29, 2007 21:33 IST

With Arsenal's unbeaten run brought to an end after 28 games, the Gunners are now concentrating on staying at the top of the Premier League.

Arsenal lost 3-1 at Sevilla in the Champions League on Tuesday, ending the side's club record unbeaten streak in all competitions dating back to April 9.

The Gunners start afresh Saturday at Aston Villa. "We need just to forget about this," midfielder Gilberto Silva said. "We need to just take the lessons from it and make sure everything is different in the next game. We must now switch our minds to the Premier League. We are doing so well in that." Arsenal leads the Premier League with 33 points, three ahead of Manchester United after the Red Devils' 1-0 loss to Bolton last Saturday. Arsenal also has a game in hand.

Both sides take losing badly _ Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was sent from the dugout at Sevilla, and United's Alex Ferguson watched the second half of the Bolton loss from the stands. Both had argued with match officials.

Manchester United hosts Fulham on Monday.

Manchester City is third in the standings with 29 points, followed by Chelsea with 28 and Liverpool and Aston Villa with 27. Liverpool's 4-1 win over FC Porto on Wednesday kept alive its chances of advancing in the Champions League.

Throughout the match fans voiced their support for manager Rafa Benitez, who had publicly feuded with the club's American owners, George Gillett Jr. and Tom Hicks, over player transfer policy. Benitez was more conciliatory in his comments after the match. "I was only trying to improve my club," the Spaniard said. "We will have to wait _ but it is a strange situation. But I repeat _ I have no problems with the owners."

Liverpool hosts Bolton on Sunday, and Wanderers will be hoping that Reds striker Fernando Torres isn't in the starting lineup. Torres scored twice against Porto to bring his tally to 10 goals in 16 games.

"He looks like becoming the 20-goal-a-season striker we've been crying out for," Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher said. This weekend marks the debut of two new coaches and a switch for another.

Steve Bruce moved from Birmingham to 19th-place Wigan, which hosts Manchester City on Saturday. Alex McLeish quit as Scotland coach to take over at Birmingham, which goes to Tottenham on Sunday. And Paul Jewell returned from a six-month break from soccer to take over last-place Derby after Billy Davies was fired on Monday. Derby is at Sunderland on Saturday.

Jewell had coached Wigan from 2001 until the end of last season, saving the club from relegation.

It's tight in the bottom half of the standings, with only seven points separating 12th-place Fulham from Derby.

Derby and Sunderland haven't won since September, and Sunderland was beaten 7-1 by Everton last Saturday.

Sunderland manager Roy Keane said he picked the wrong team and hopes for a stronger defensive showing against Derby. "I wish we had a game before Saturday but we just have to wait _ hopefully we will take out our frustrations on Derby," Keane said. Jewell is focusing on getting his players motivated. "I want them believing in themselves and playing with pride in that shirt _ the stadium is called Pride Park so let's go and put some pride back in it," he said.

At Birmingham, McLeish warned that success won't happen overnight.

"I'm not going to say that all of a sudden, I am going to produce a magic wand and we're all going to start playing Arsenal-like football," the former Rangers manager said. "But we will try and entertain the fans and at the same time, we're here to try and get results."

Manchester City manager Sven-Goran Eriksson knows a change of coach can bring unexpected results.

"If you talk about Wigan, not a chance, I don't have a clue how they will play," Eriksson said. "It's Steve Bruce's first game and what ideas he has at the moment, who knows?"

In the League Championship, leader Watford hosts Bristol, West Bromwich Albion is at Crystal Palace and Charlton plays Burnley. Watford has 36 points, followed by West Brom with 34 and Charlton with 31.