Arsene Wenger convinced Arsenal must win at Newcastle to beat Tottenham to Champions League place
Arsenal manager 'confident' his side's experience will see them finish in top four after 4-1 win over FA Cup winners Wigan
Glenn Moore is Football Editor for The Independent and a Uefa B licence holder. Glenn has worked for the Independent newspapers since 1993, initially as cricket correspondent of the Independent on Sunday, subsequently as football correspondent of The Independent before becoming football editor in 2004.
Wednesday 15 May 2013
Arsene Wenger said he was sure Arsenal would have to win at Newcastle United on Sunday to secure a Champions League spot, and equally confident they would.
Arsenal's 4-1 win over Wigan moved them back into fourth place above Tottenham, but with Spurs at home to Sunderland in their final game Arsenal are likely to need three points at St James' Park to retain that place.
“I think we will need to win,” he said, “and I am confident we will hold our nerve because we have experience. We have played for a long time under massive pressure and we always found the solutions to the problems we have faced, so I'm confident.”
Wenger admitted, though, that his players had become nervous after Wigan levelled. “It took us some time to recover from that goal. It became a bit edgy and nervous. Their goal was a big blow for our team and you could see that when we came out in the second half; we were not as fluent as we wanted to be. This kind of game you need to keep your nerve and continue to play like there is nothing at stake. There were several times when we were on the brink of conceding a second goal - Wojciech [Szczesny] made a great save at 1-1. When we scored the second goal, I think it was a massive blow for Wigan. They never recovered from that. Then it became a comfortable win.
“It is sad that Wigan go down because they are a good team, they play good football. It is an intelligent team with good players. If they stay together, they will certainly come up again.”
Wenger admitted it was frustrating his team took so long to play consistently this season. “I think we have the same number of points as Manchester United since the first of January, but it took us some time to get going. We didn't win in the big games, and especially at home, [so] it took us a long time to find the level of confidence. It maybe also took time to balance the team because of many new players.
Arsenal, added Wenger, may yet come third. If Arsenal win by more than two goals, and Chelsea, who will have played the Europa League cup final in Amsterdam in the interim, fail to beat Everton, Arsenal will take the last automatic qualifying spot. Fourth place goes into a play-off.
Wenger added Mikel Arteta has a calf injury and is doubtful for Sunday. If he does not play Jack Wilshere may start.
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