Arsene Wenger hails Arsenal's 'remarkable turnaround'


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The Independent Football

Arsene Wenger has hailed the “remarkable turnaround” in Arsenal's fortunes as they close in on an automatic Champions League spot for next season.

The Gunners looked like also rans pre-Christmas with some sections of fans believing Wenger's 16-year spell at the club should be brought to an end.

But there has been a dramatic change since Arsenal trailed North London rivals Tottenham by eight points in the scrap for third place in the Barclays Premier League in early February.

Goals from Robin van Persie, Theo Walcott and Yossi Benayoun propelled Arsenal to a ninth win in 10 games via last night's 3-0 success over Wolves and five points clear of Spurs.

Wenger said: "Considering where we were before Christmas, we have improved a lot. Maybe it is the most remarkable turnaround I have seen here.

"But the spirit was always good and we have been very consistent for the past couple of months when we have shown a lot of quality as well."

Not that Wenger is getting carried away with Arsenal's prospects ahead of Monday's clash with Wigan, who caused one of the upsets of the season with last night's win over Manchester United.

He said: "We will be cautious because we have suffered a lot this year and I don't know how many points it will take to make sure (of a Champions League spot).

"Other teams have been where we are now and the situation has changed and maybe that will help us to keep our feet on the ground.

"All I will say is let's see where we are at the end of the season and I am just focusing on the next game.

"We know it will be another battle against Wigan, another team who are fighting not to go down like Wolves are and who had a great result against Manchester United."

Yossi Benayoun, who scored Arsenal's third goal at Molineux, echoed the sentiments of Wenger but is confident the Gunners will finish third.

The on-loan Chelsea midfielder said: "Five points is a big gap to have at this stage of the season but we have to keep playing well and win some more games.

"Next we have Wigan. They beat Manchester United so that is a warning for everyone.

"It will not be an easy game and after there is a game against Chelsea which I can't play in.

"There are still a few hard games but I am sure that in the end we will finish in the top three."

Robin van Persie scored his 34th goal of the campaign via an outrageous chip from the penalty spot to end a mini drought of four games.

Wenger said: "How Van Persie took the penalty was a surprise to me. I've never seen him doing that.

"He said to me it is just something that came in to his mind in the last seconds before he took it."

The Dutchman has equalled the Premier League record held by former Gunners player Ian Wright for scoring against the most teams - 17 - in a 38 game season.

Alan Shearer and Andy Cole were also on target against 17 different teams in the same season but the Premier League consisted of 22 teams when they achieved that feat.