Arsene Wenger wants Arsenal to continue believing into next season

 

Arsene Wenger has challenged his Arsenal squad to end the season with the belief they can deliver again in 2013.

The Gunners - who appear set to be without midfielder Mikel Arteta because of an ankle injury for their final four matches - host Chelsea tomorrow lunchtime aiming to bounce back from the disappointment of Monday night's shock 2-1 home defeat by Wigan.

Arsenal are currently five points ahead of fourth-placed Tottenham and Newcastle, and some seven in front of the Blues, albeit having now played a match more.

It has been a remarkable turnaround by Wenger's squad to fight their way back into Champions League contention following an appalling start - which saw them slump down as low as 17th place.

Wenger feels if for nothing else, the group deserve credit for the way they found consistency from such a testing spell, as a run of nine wins from 11, including seven successive victories, saw the Gunners overhaul Spurs, Chelsea and Newcastle.

"After losing four games in the first seven, to be where we are today is a remarkable achievement," the Arsenal boss said.

"Now our target must be to better what we did last season.

"A strong finish will be important for that reason, and also to give us the belief to enter 2012/2013 with confidence."

Wenger admitted on Monday night he feared Arteta's injury was "quite a serious one".

It is understood while scans revealed no break, ligament damage means the Spanish midfielder will need several weeks of recovery.

Yossi Benayoun, on loan from Chelsea, is ineligible to play against his parent club this weekend, so Aaron Ramsey or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could start in midfield.

Despite Arsenal's resurgence, qualification for next season's elite European competition is far from guaranteed.

Indeed, should Chelsea, who on Wednesday night won the first leg of their semi-final against Barcelona 1-0 at Stamford Bridge, go on to lift the European Cup in Munich next month, but fail to finish in at least fourth place, then they would take the spot in next season's group stages and consign their rivals down to the Europa League.

Ivory Coast forward Gervinho, however, insists the Gunners are fully focused on delivering the required performances over the closing four games to make that possibility irrelevant.

"We want to be among the top three. The whole group is very motivated and we are already happy to be where we are," Gervinho told Arsenal Player.

"We can still do better with the four matches coming. We are fighting only for third place, we don't think about fourth spot.

"Everybody is determined to fight until the end, from the players and the manager to the fans, to maintain third place.

"If we manage to keep it then everybody should be proud because we fought very hard for it."

Gervinho, a £10.5million summer signing from French side Lille, added: "We had to prove to the people who didn't believe in us that we were able to come back by playing well.

"The result is here today. Our progression during the season speaks for itself on the pitch."

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there