Wenger: We've all to play for
Arsene Wenger has challenged his Arsenal team to prove they have enough attacking talent to do without a big target man. The Gunners head to Liverpool tomorrow missing Robin van Persie and Nicklas Bendtner, and could well deploy Andrey Arshavin - who netted all four goals in last season's dramatic draw at Anfield - in a central striking role.
While much has been made of the manner of Arsenal's 3-0 home defeat by Chelsea a fortnight ago, Wenger maintains there is no need for his team to have a dedicated target man in the mould of Didier Drogba. England forward Theo Walcott is expected to feature after coming through the midweek UEFA Champions League loss to Olympiacos in Athens, while Frenchman Abou Diaby could return from a groin problem to add some weight in midfield.
"Since I have been in football, you have always been missing something," Wenger said. "The real question is can we win as we are now, and I say yes. That is what we want to focus on. Yes, we have some taller players out, but that does not stop anybody from winning."
Arsenal will be aiming to keep within touching distance of Premier League leaders Chelsea, whom they trail by eight points with a game in hand. Following successive defeats by Sunderland and Chelsea after the international break, the Emirates Stadium team have lost four league games this season. Liverpool are seventh after five defeats, and another loss for either side could spell the end of their title aspirations.
"I do not believe there is any difference in the league at the moment where you can say that any team is dominating," said Wenger. "Yes, Chelsea are on top, but they have also lost three games already and we have only played 14 or 15 matches.
"It shows you that it will be down to consistency and consistency for us is starting now to be performing regularly again. We had been disrupted by the international break and lost two games. We had a blip against Sunderland and Chelsea, which was unexpected.
"But now we won against Stoke and we want to confirm that win. I believe we still have all to go for and have to show that. I am convinced we have the technical, physical and mental quality to cope with the pressure at that level."
Tottenham Hotspur are only a point behind Arsenal, with Aston Villa and Manchester City both above Liverpool as the battle for a top-four finish looks set to go the distance. "Everybody has a real chance of not making the top four if you do not perform," warned Wenger.
"There is a greater pressure [this season] but in 2006 we only got in front of Tottenham on the last day of the season. There have always been threats every year, but we always managed to be in there. That is down to our quality."