Pressure is mounting on Gunners, but ice cool Wenger still believes
BY JEM MAIDMENT Beaten just once since last April in the Premier League – and with no chance of their nearest and dearest rivals overtaking them – the pressure is still mounting on Arsene Wenger s title-chasing young guns. They remain two points clear at
BY JEM MAIDMENT
Beaten just once since last April in the Premier League - and with no chance of their nearest and dearest rivals overtaking them - the pressure is still mounting on Arsene Wenger's title-chasing young guns.
They remain two points clear at the top of the table after last Sunday's hybrid of Association and rugby football at Wigan's mudbath, but second-placed Manchester United now know if they win all their remaining games, they will be champions for the second successive season.
Wenger, however, is not buying it just yet - and is also mindful nine wins from his team's final nine league matches will bring the trophy south.
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He expects United, who have a valuable game in hand, to drop points in the run-in and will be encouraged after their 1-0 defeat at home to Portsmouth in the FA Cup quarter-final.
The thoughtful Frenchman, who is remaining cool despite United cranking it up in recent weeks, also has to take his side to Old Trafford on April 13, a match which could decide the destination of the title.
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"They will not take all the points and we can go there and beat them," he declared defiantly this week as he prepared his side for the visit of Middlesbrough to The Emirates tomorrow.
Some of Arsenal's 5,000 followers at the JJB Stadium on Sunday celebrated a turgid draw more enthusiastically than you might expect.
The reason was purely local, with United briefly forgotten. That point ensure Spurs cannot overtake their local foes in the table - a day traditionally known around Highbury way as St Totteringham's Day.
Despite their Carling Cup triumph last month, Spurs now lie 31 points behind the Gunners, who were tipped by many last August to drop out of the top four this season in place of the resurgent Lilywhites.
But Tottenham can proudly point to finally having some silverware and Wenger expects his side to improve as they bid for a pot of their own, starting this weekend with their first three points since a 2-0 win over Blackburn on February 11.
"I am sure we will take off again," vowed Wenger, before putting his own spin on the dropped points of recent weeks.
"We have gone through a difficult patch. We have to keep our calm and focus and belief.
"Four points have been dropped in the past three league games. Against Aston Villa a point was just what we deserved but Birmingham and Wigan were four points dropped.
"You go through a patch like that and the negative is a deficit in points. The positive is we didn't lose a game but there was room for us to take more than that.
"But I am very confident we still have good chances to do it [win the Premier League].
"We want now to come back to winning habits straight away against Middlesbrough on Saturday. I am still very confident.