Wenger backs Denilson to shine

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Arsene Wenger has no doubt Denilson can step into Alex Song's midfield enforcer role as the Gunners look to keep the pressure on Barclays Premier League leaders Chelsea with victory over struggling Bolton tonight.

Cameroon international Song played his last game in the FA Cup third-round win at West Ham before jetting off to Angola for the African Nations Cup.

Wenger has plenty of options for the role which has seen Song help protect Cesc Fabregas and allow the captain - now set to return for the trip to the Reebok next weekend - more freedom to support the attack.

Denilson is fit again following a back problem, and the Arsenal manager believes the Brazilian - who turns 22 in February - can rise to the challenge.

Wenger said: "Denilson has 150 games in the Premier League. People do not notice how important he is for us and he can play in every single position in midfield.

"He is very strong in reading the game and winning the ball back."

Wenger maintains his young Arsenal side have both the required hunger and mental strength to continue their march towards the top of the table.

The Gunners could move to within a point of leaders Chelsea if they beat Bolton, currently without a manager.

It is a remarkable turnaround in fortunes since being outmuscled 3-0 at home by Chelsea at the end of November.

In that period, Arsenal have recorded five wins from six Premier League games, while both Chelsea and second-placed Manchester United have struggled for consistency.

Wenger, though, never lost faith in his young Gunners to deliver.

"One month ago we were far from the top teams, and since have created momentum," he said.

"We refused to give up and continued to fight and believe in our strengths.

"The biggest test in our camp was the mental strengths of the players and the solidarity of the players. That has been tested.

"What we have realised in one month gives us a good springboard to go even further. Why should we stop here?

"The next two months will determine how ambitious and how hungry we are."

Wenger added: "It does not mean Chelsea or Manchester United do not have hunger - but what I know is that within our team we have a great hunger for success. We have great solidarity and team spirit.

"We are a team who has grown up together and wants to achieve things.

"We have not won anything yet together and that makes us hungry for success."

Wenger is on the market for some fresh talent to strengthen the squad, particularly with Holland international Robin van Persie a long-term absentee after suffering a knee injury.

However, the Arsenal manager maintains as yet, there are no fresh developments.

"Ideally because of the number of games you have in January, you want to act as quickly as possible, but at the moment it is very quiet," he said.

"You hear here and there a player is going, but there is always more talk in the media than movement and more speculation than acting."