'Everybody says to me we have played the best football'

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Arsene Wenger said last night that he did not believe any other team would emulate Arsenal's achievement of winning the championship without losing a single game.

"That for me is a tremendous achievement and I'm not sure we'll see it again," he said. "We will now try to keep it going to the end of the season in style."

Indeed, Wenger's own celebrations were muted and in stark contrast to his those of his players, who danced on the White Hart Lane pitch. When asked if he had a glass of champagne in his hand he replied: "No, it's water. There are four games to go and we are still serious."

Wenger added: "Do we switch off or not? Can we keep the concentration going?" His aim, he said, was to complete the season unbeaten in the League. "We are on such a good run and I want to keep it going. That's my biggest target, to keep the players focused.

"To lose a game or two because we are champions would not be ideal. We are so close I would love to keep it going. I think we want to win and win with style. I think we have achieved that this season. We are very proud of that."

His thoughts, he said, were influenced by the "precarious" nature of football. A turning point in the season, Wenger said, was the penalty Ruud van Nistelrooy missed against Arsenal last autumn. Nevertheless, he admitted he was relieved the title was now secure.

"At some stage you are in a position where if you don't win it you look ridiculous," he said. "You know in football it's never over until it's mathematically done. When it's done it's a relief. Maybe I'm less good at celebrations than a few years ago. In football you are always focusing on the next day and the next day is always a worry in this job."

Wenger admitted that goalkeeper Jens Lehmann had reacted badly in conceding the penalty after shoving Robbie Keane. "I think he made a mistake. Even if he's held back he should not respond at all," Wenger said. Arsenal, he contended, deserved the title because they had the "best attack and the best defence. Everybody says to me that we have played the best football".

Tottenham's acting manager David Pleat certainly agreed. "They are a classic team and every club will agree they are worthy champions this season. There is no argument," he said.

Wenger's muted reaction was influenced, he admitted, by Arsenal's exit from the European Cup.

"I think we've improved every year. This season has been fantastic, even if we have some regrets," he said. "I know I will never forget that game (the home defeat to Chelsea)."

Wenger refused to agree with the claim that Arsenal had now usurped Manchester United. "In the last three years we have won the championship twice and the FA Cup twice. We have made up a lot of the difference," he said. "I believe we have to keep humility and wonder how we can become better and that starts with me. If we are able to do that there's still a lot more to come."

His captain, Patrick Vieira, agreed. "We are not going to stop here. This club is getting bigger and we aim higher every year," he said. "The team spirit is fantastic. I think we deserved to win the Premiership because we played so well throughout the season."

The Arsenal captain also added his thoughts on Thierry Henry retaining the PFA Player of the Year award last night: "Of course he deserves it. It's a team game but without Thierry it would be more difficult." Henry himself added: "It was the desire. We are all winners."