Arsenal news

Arsene Wenger targets No. 2 spot

February 25, 2013
By Press Association

His team may have spent most of the week on the ropes, but manager Arsene Wenger insists Arsenal can finish second in the Premier League this season.

"I'm not sure it will only be a fight with Tottenham," Wenger said. "I'm not sure the other places are not reachable. Chelsea are just ahead and even Man City is not out of reach. It could be a tight fight until the end."

This week Wenger has endured one of the most difficult periods of his 17-year reign at the club.

The Gunners were knocked out of the FA Cup by npower Championship contenders Blackburn and were then completely outclassed by Bayern Munich, going down 3-1 to the Germans in the first leg of their last-16 Champions League tie.

Wenger's men hauled themselves off the canvas Sunday, beating Aston Villa 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium to move within just one point of fourth-placed Spurs.

Beating their bitter rivals to fourth place would be enough for most Arsenal fans after what they have been through this season, but Wenger insists his team can do even better and overtake Manchester City and Chelsea, who lie second and third, nine and two points ahead of the Gunners respectively.

For most of the game against Villa, Arsenal looked anything but capable of leapfrogging Chelsea and City into second.

But after a testing week, Wenger hopes the Santi Cazorla-inspired victory will restore a sense of calm and normality to the Arsenal camp ahead of Sunday's north London derby at White Hart Lane.

"I hope this gives us a bit more quietness for us to prepare our next game. It was a very important day for Arsenal Football Club," Wenger said.

"I am very happy for the players because they have a good attitude and want to do well. We went through some difficult times so it was important first to show that we are united, determined and focused to win the game, and we were."

Cazorla swept home after five minutes after seeing his initial attempt blocked, but Andreas Weimann stunned the home crowd 22 minutes from the end with a brilliant equalizer on the counter.

The impressive Austrian switched off with five minutes to go, though, allowing Nacho Monreal space to cross for Cazorla, who fired home the winner from close range.

Gabriel Agbonlahor, Charles N'Zogbia, and Christian Benteke all caused panic among the home defence, however, and Wenger admits his team was on edge at times.

"We hit the wall twice in one week. When you drive with a car you hit first time, you have an accident at 100 miles an hour. You say 'Okay, we go again.' You hit it again three days later. You will then drive a little bit more cautiously," he said. "That's exactly how it is. It's exactly like that. What is important now is that we can focus again on football."

The result means Villa are back in the drop zone, but Weimann thinks they will avoid relegation.

"We are all together. We are all confident that we will get out of this. I am confident we can get a few more wins," he said.

"Every time we went forward we looked like we were going to create something. We have to take confidence from this into our last few games."