Wenger no fan of four-play as Gunners face Villa
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insists there is plenty to fight for this season as finishing below Manchester City would bring an unwelcome Champions League qualifier.sports Updated: May 14, 2011 12:29 IST
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insists there is plenty to fight for this season as finishing below Manchester City would bring an unwelcome Champions League qualifier.
Wenger's team have fallen off the pace in the Premier League title race and are just two points in front of fourth-placed City heading into the match against Aston Villa at the Emirates Stadium.
If Arsenal remain in third place, or move above Chelsea into second, they would go straight into next season's group stages in Europe's top club competition. Finishing fourth would disrupt Wenger's pre-season.
"We do not want that, but it is down to our results in the last two games," said the Frenchman. "At the end of the season, we will have played 58 official games, plus the international games.
"After some of the players will go to play international games and for us it is ideal not to play an important game in pre-season."
Wenger admitted the atmosphere at Arsenal was "flat" on the weekend of the FA Cup final and the title potentially being decided.
"Very flat, we wanted to be involved in the FA Cup Final of course," he said.
"It is very frustrating for us, it is a frustrating situation because we were very close in every competition.
"We do not feel that we under-performed overall. We are the best away team, we have the best defence in open play, because we have been very close in the championship to win that.
"We just felt we could not get over the line. We want to analyse very well why.
"We feel we have made up some of the gap between us and the top teams from the seasons before - we are top of the league in the top four of Man United, Chelsea and Man City. So we have every reason to be frustrated."
Wenger also reacted angrily to allegations from former Arsenal forward Paul Merson of Arsenal team-mates injected with a "yellowy product".
"Every year we have at least 20 doping controls. In 15 years we have not had one positive control," Wenger said. "You think, really, I try to dope?
"If you find one player who I asked to take an injection to play one game, no matter how big the game was, I would resign tomorrow morning.
"It is absolutely ridiculous to put any suspicion on the way we treat the players and respect the players' health."
Wenger has been in contact with Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier, who will not be at the match after being admitted to hospital with chest pains.
"I have been in contact with him. He will not be at the game. I have seen him and he is as good as you can be. I hope he will be back as quickly as possible."
Villa are looking to finish the season strongly and then attempt to keep hold of their best players before the next campaign starts.
England winger Ashley Young has been linked with a move away from Villa Park and admits he wants to be winning trophies at this stage of his career.
"I'm an ambitious person who wants to win titles and leagues and cups and stuff," he told the Birmingham Mail.
"Hopefully, fingers crossed, I can do that. I think they say players start to peak at 26 or 27.
"I'll soon be 26, so fingers crossed I can start peaking myself. I've been enjoying how things have been going for me."
Defender Ciaran Clark is out for Villa with a hamstring problem. Jean Makoun returns to the squad after missing the last two matches with a dead leg.