Arsenal v Manchester City: Arsene Wenger 'disappointed' by recent form but admits side can still top the Premier League table
Wenger feels that Arsenal can still challenge for the title and can draw on positives from the 6-3 defeat to City earlier in the season to get a result when they visit the Emirates
Arsene Wenger has admitted that Arsenal came away from their midweek draw against Swansea “disappointed” after the 2-2 stalemate appeared to end any chances they had of challenging for the Premier League title.
Arsenal’s campaign doesn’t get any easier as they welcome Manchester City to the Emirates in Saturday’s evening kick-off, with the memory of the 6-3 thrashing they received at the Etihad earlier in the season still fresh in their memory.
The Gunners’ season has veered off the rails in recent weeks, with their Champions League exit to Bayern Munich preceding the 6-0 humiliation at the hands of Chelsea last weekend. Wenger has stressed though that despite confidence being visibly low within the squad, they remain determined to win every match and can still challenge for the top of the table.
Speaking at a pre-match press conference, Wenger said: “The mood is of course disappointed but we want to prepare for the next game. We gave everything against Swansea.
“We want to focus on our own strengths and we need to have a top defensive performance [against City].
“After every game I don't win, I'm disappointed but I'm just determined to win the next game"
“It will be down to the quality of our collective defending tomorrow. We have to keep going despite our negative results.”
The 64-year-old also recognised Everton pose a threat to their top-four placing, but claimed that if the Toffees are genuine rivals for fourth, then Arsenal can still challenge the three sides above them.
“If people say Everton can catch us then we can catch the teams above us,” claimed Wenger.
“We have not given up believe me. It's our attitude tomorrow which will show that. We play at the Emirates where we show big strengths and we want to show that again tomorrow.”
Wenger recognised that while the 6-3 defeat on their visit to Manchester hurt their title aspirations, there were positives that the players could take out of their performance. The problem remains though that Arsenal have capitulated three times against their main rivals this season, while also losing to Manchester United in a season when the Red Devils are going through their worst run of form since the inception of the Premier League.
“There's plenty of positives to take from the game at the Etihad,” Wenger added. “But of course we must defend better.
“We haven't started the big games on the front foot and we want to change that tomorrow.
“There is no other priority other than coming first - that is still our target. We were 17 or 18 times top of the league this season. We need to continue to work well, we have been unlucky with injuries.”
The Frenchman also spoke kindly on referee Andre Marriner, after he mistakenly sent off Kieran Gibbs in the Chelsea defeat for a handball committed by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
“I completely accept the fact that Andre Marriner is a good referee,” expressed Wenger. “He doesn't need to apologise to me.”
When asked whether defender Bacary Sagna, who is out of contract this season, will be leaving the club for a move to City, Wenger claimed that he remains confident of keeping hold of his countryman, but admitted that he will respect any decision that the right-back makes.
“I'm confident Sagna will stay but we will accept his decision and go with it,” Wenger said, before stressing that talk of a three-year contract offered by City to the France international would be classed as an illegal approach.
Wenger also confirmed that Aaron Ramsey, whose early season form saw the Gunners rise to the Premier League summit, will not feature this weekend but is slowly closing in on a return to action after his latest setback in his recovery from a thigh injury.
“Ramsey will be the first back but we still need to be cautious,” revealed the Arsenal manager. “Jack Wilshere needs more time.”
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