Wenger: Let's give everything to win
Arsene Wenger has challenged his Arsenal squad to give "absolutely every drop of blood" to stay in contention for the Premier League title with victory over arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur tomorrow.
The Gunners now find themselves seven points behind leaders Manchester United, who drew 0-0 at Newcastle United tonight. That gap could have been closer, but for what striker Robin van Persie described as another "criminal" lapse in defensive concentration on Sunday when Liverpool scored a penalty to earn a 1-1 draw at the end of stoppage time just minutes after the Gunners thought they had scored the winner from the spot.
It was another bitter disappointment in a six-week spell which has seen Wenger's men lose the League Cup final at Wembley before crashing out of both the UEFA Champions League and FA Cup, while a string of frustrating draws has now left the destiny of the title out of their hands.
Wenger, though, has again called on his young team to show the strength of character and silence their critics by delivering a first trophy in six years come the end of May.
"It is becoming harder every year because we have more and more investors. We have seen again, Liverpool is not in the top four and they will try to fight again next season for it," Wenger told Arsenal TV Online.
"We want to continue to develop, stay in the top four and, after, get close to Manchester United to still have a chance to win this Premier League. I still believe it is absolutely important, essential that we give absolutely every drop of blood to do it."
Arsenal have little time to reflect on missed opportunities as they prepare to head to White Hart Lane for what is set to be another intense and unpredictable affair. Wenger is expecting a reaction from his side.
"It was difficult to swallow, the equaliser [against Liverpool], but you look forward and you want to put it right again in the next game - that is what our job is about," the Gunners manager said. "When you play at Arsenal you need to have the mental dimension to deal with that. We are on a 15-game unbeaten run and we want to continue that. Maybe, you never know, it will be a point that will be helpful at the end of the season."
Wenger, though, would not be drawn on whether a target had been set for the remaining six matches, other than to just win the next.
"Let's give absolutely everything to win this one," Wenger said. "We are not in a period where we can calculate. I believe it is important that we give absolutely everything to win our next game."
Arsenal won 4-1 at White Hart Lane in their League Cup tie earlier this season, but Spurs fans have been enjoying bragging rights after Harry Redknapp's men came back from 2-0 down to win at the Emirates Stadium in November. Wenger is sure tomorrow's game will be another interesting encounter.
"We always play good games against Spurs, and played very well in September in the Carling Cup," he said. We will play our game, don't worry. We want to show we have the mental dimension to play for this club. The players want to show that and there is no better way to do that than against Spurs."