Wenger beats the drum as Arsenal target third place
Monday 03 May 2010
Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger has called on his team to finish the season in style and secure the third-place finish that will ensure automatic qualification into next season's Champions League.
The Gunners travel to Blackburn today knowing victory will put them out of reach of fourth-placed Tottenham while even a draw should be enough, given Wenger's side superior goal difference to their neighbours.
"We want to win," Wenger maintained. "I will play the team that I think is most efficient and balanced to win the game. To be faithful to what we have done during the season it is important that we finish well, first to be in the top three, then be as close as possible to the top teams. There is still an outside chance they will drop points and that means we can finish within maybe five points of them."
Arsenal remained in contention for the title three weeks ago before consecutive defeats against Spurs and Wigan, and Wenger says his team will not underestimate the challenge of facing a Blackburn team which have lost just three league games at Ewood Park this season.
"Blackburn have done remarkably well," the Frenchman continued. "They have turned things around and have played good football this season I believe and had good games against Chelsea and Man United. It promises to be an interesting and exciting game because they will go for the win as they have nothing to lose. It could be a good end-of-season game."
Midfielder Denilson misses out after being ruled out for the final two games of the season with a groin injury, while Andrei Arshavin remains a major doubt with a calf problem. Lukasz Fabianski will continue in goal with Manuel Almunia still suffering from a wrist injury. Defenders Kieran Gibbs and Johan Djourou have both recovered from injury but will not be used this afternoon or against Fulham in the final match of the campaign on Sunday.
Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce, who took his players on a golfing break to Gleneagles last week, hopes to welcome back defender Chris Samba (groin) and midfielder Brett Emerton (hamstring), while El-Hadji Diouf (tonsilitis) and Vince Grella (illness) may also return.
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