Hleb: Arsenal can't afford any slip-ups

April 7, 2006

Alexander Hleb knows there are 'no more margins for error' if Arsenal are to secure a top-four finish in the Barclays Premiership.

The Gunners booked a place in the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time following a goalless draw with Juventus in Turin on Wednesday night, having taken a 2-0 aggregate lead to Italy.

Before their next European adventure against Villarreal, though, there is the small matter of a trip to second-placed Manchester United on Sunday.

It is not the most welcoming of fixtures for Arsene Wenger's side as they seek to keep the pressure up on Tottenham, who currently occupy the final Champions League qualifying berth and have played a game more than their north-London rivals, the sides still to meet at Highbury later this month.

Midfielder Hleb, though, insists Arsenal must now dig deep to fully focus on sustaining their form both at home and in Europe.

'Although the first half of the season was not so good, we have now found our rhythm and are playing very well,' the Belarus international said.

'Both the Champions League and Premier League are equal priorities for us and, since we lost so many points in the first half of the season, we need to try to catch them up.'

Hleb declared: 'We face Manchester United at the weekend and have no more margins for error - that is the game we are focusing on.'

Arsenal's European success has meant they now face a hectic end to the season.

Following Sunday's clash at Old Trafford, the Gunners must then play their re-arranged match away to Portsmouth on Wednesday, April 12. Three days later, they will host relegation-battlers West Brom.

The first leg of their Champions League semi-final with Villarreal will take place on Wednesday, April 19, meaning their clash against Manchester City which had been scheduled for Easter Monday will now be played on May 4 - just three days after they travel to Sunderland.

Wenger will have veteran England defender Sol Campbell available again this weekend, and hopes full-back Ashley Cole should also be in contention for the run-in.

Campbell, 31, has not played for the Gunners since the defeat by West Ham on February 1.

'I have had a couple of injuries that have held be back and that is annoying. Now I just want to play football,' the centre-back said.

'I am fit, I am well and I am back. Now I am just waiting for my chance.'

Wenger insists that will come, even if his current defenders are in superb form.

The Arsenal manager said: 'With the qualification [for the semi-finals], we will play more games, and that will mean we will rotate players.

'We play Sunday, then Wednesday at Portsmouth. We need to win every game, so Sol will come into that because I will have to rotate the team.'