Thomas Vermaelen insists Gunners are not concerned by title race

 

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The Independent Football

Thomas Vermaelen insists Arsenal will not be bothered whether they have inflicted a fatal blow to Manchester City's Barclays Premier League title hopes as the Gunners focus on their own battles at the top of the table.

Arsenal moved back into third place yesterday after a late 25-yard strike from Mikel Arteta secured an eighth win in the last nine games as City's resistance was finally broken.

The visitors' misery was then compounded by the dismissal of maverick striker Mario Balotelli in stoppage time as they fell eight points behind leaders Manchester United, who had beaten QPR earlier in the day.

The Gunners needed a response following last weekend's lacklustre 2-1 defeat by the relegation-battling Hoops at Loftus Road and did not disappoint.

"We know Manchester City and Manchester United are in a fight for the title, but we are also in a massive fight for third place, which is really important," said Vermaelen, who inadvertently blocked a goal-bound header from Arsenal captain Robin van Persie after 15 minutes.

"We only look at ourselves and try to win every game.

"It was a really important win, especially after the result from last week because we are in a big fight for third place."

The Belgian centre-half added: "We had a good momentum before QPR, when we had seven wins in a row.

"The game at QPR was a real negative moment so it was important to get the three points again, especially against Manchester City, who are a contender for the title."

The victory moved Arsenal two points clear of rivals Tottenham and closed up to potentially within striking distance of the Blues, should they now crumble over the final six games.

While Wenger does not believe for a minute City are about to "give up", the Arsenal boss concedes there remains lingering thoughts of what might have been had his squad found this consistency earlier in a difficult campaign.

"We have taken 24 points out of 27 and the points we got, many of them were deserved, so we have improved as a team, that is 100% for sure," he said.

"We started from too deep and we got a blip in January which cost us severely because now we are nine points behind City.

"You could see that even starting where we started, if we had not lost our games in January we could be there [challenging]."

Arsenal head to bottom club Wolves on Wednesday night with Wenger acutely aware of the need to avoid a repeat of the performance produced at QPR against another of the sides involved in the relegation dogfight.

"You have to deal now with a team that will fight not to go down, so it will demand the same commitment as against Manchester City," he said.

"Wolves will fight for their survival and are dangerous as well."

Laurent Koscielny picked up a 10th yellow card of the season when treading on Gareth Barry's ankle in the second half, which will mean the French defender must now serve a two-match ban.

Vermaelen may well have a new central defensive partner at Molineux, but the Belgian captain knows there can be no drop in concentration.

"Every game is important for us at the moment, and each one will be hard," he said.

"You could see that at QPR, and we dropped points there, so Wolves will be the same.

"We have to be on the top of our toes and play well there."

PA

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