Double winner Radford urges Gunners: fight to the death for title
Arsenal double-winning legend Jon Radford has urged Arsene Wenger s class of 2008 to take heart from their dramatic comeback at Bolton and fight to the death for the title. Radford watched in awe as the 10 men battled from 2-0 down to win 3-2 on Saturda
Arsenal double-winning legend Jon Radford has urged Arsene Wenger's class of 2008 to take heart from their dramatic comeback at Bolton and "fight to the death" for the title.
Radford watched in awe as the 10 men battled from 2-0 down to win 3-2 on Saturday, sealing their first league win in six games to propel them back into the title race.
Now he believes that stirring victory will inspire them to go on and finish the season strongly, primed in case Manchester United and Chelsea concede points in the final six weeks of a title race Wenger has called the best in his 12 years in English football.
"The most important thing is that we must keep winning," Radford told Wood&Vale Sport.
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"The one thing that would hurt more than anything is if United and Chelsea both dropped points but we lost out because we didn't do our job. Imagine it? We'd all be absolutely gutted."
That win at a windy and rainy Reebok Stadium may have answered a few critics, but Arsenal must now pick up a maximum haul of 18 points to push reigning champions United to the end.
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One of those wins must come at Old Trafford when Arsenal travel to Manchester on April 13.
Cesc Fabregas, who netted the late winner at the weekend, said: "If we want to win the league we cannot lose any more points. We have to think positive.
"Man United have to go to Chelsea and we're going to Old Trafford to win. Of course we can win there.
"We did it last season and we've done it a few times in recent years, so why not this time?"
Radford concurs with the Spaniard. "Arsenal's problem is that they must rely on the other two to lose but, and this is the great thing, they still have some say in United's season.
"They can nick three points off them next weekend and, as Cesc said after the Bolton game, United must still travel to Chelsea.
"If those two were to draw that would also be a big help. United, let's remember, also have a pretty tough run-in."
Radford netted 149 times in 475 starts for the Gunners between 1963 and 1976 but his finest hour came in the 1970/71 season when they won the Double.
He knows all about title run-ins after his side held their nerve and came out on top against dogged rivals Leeds United that season, and says Arsenal must forget about their fellow challengers and concentrate on their own game.
"That's what they did at Bolton - and that's what we did all those years ago. You wouldn't have put tuppence on Arsenal to take even a point at half-time on Saturday but they just concentrated on working hard and getting the three points.
"That is the mentality that wins trophies - you have to shut out what is going on elsewhere and just focus on what you can do.
"We may trail United by six points but I really do believe the Old Trafford game will be key.
"Arsene Wenger is a brilliant manager and I believe he will throw himself into the next month and a half - nothing has been decided yet and he knows that as much as anyone."
Radford also believes Liverpool stand little chance of getting a win at The Emirates on Saturday lunchtime - whatever has happened in their Champions League clash this week.
"I believe we will beat them well on Saturday and push ourselves right back into the title race.
"Chelsea and United have tough games at Manchester City and Middlesbrough, respectively, this weekend and come Sunday night the picture may have changed in our favour just a little more.
"I also believe, we will progress in Europe too," he said prior to Wednesday's Champions League quarter-final first leg.
But, he adds, whatever happens between now and the end of May, it will still have been an excellent season for Wenger's developing side - and reminds those left frustrated at results in recent weeks that injury problems have not helped.
"What side wouldn't miss people like Tomas Rosicky and Robin van Persie? Eduardo is also now out for nine months at least - just after he was beginning to get settled and score goals.
"I do not believe his awful injury had an effect on his team-mates as has been suggested. I simply think we have missed his talents up front.
"No other top side has had the injury problems we have had - and we have a thinner squad than the others."
Radford remains totally immersed in Arsenal after first arriving at Highbury as a fresh-faced teenager from his native Pontefract in Yorkshire in 1963.
Now 61, he is a regular tour guide at The Emirates as well as carrying out hospitality work on match days.
His views can also be heard on Arsenal's new television station where he rarely pulls any punches.
"This morning," he smiles, "I took 44 people around the new stadium on the tour and it was a pleasure. I love the fact, after all these years, I am still remembered so well and still have an active role within the club.
"I worked for Bishop's Stortford Town - where I live - for 17 years before a new man came in and just dumped me without warning or reason.
"Now, I have no pressure and just love doing my stuff with Arsenal and being a part of things still - I get to see pretty much every game and meet some wonderful people. It ain't a bad life."