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Arsenal plagued by stubbornness


Boro must capitalise at Stoke


Wenger "happy" with third

Arsene Wenger believes that although his side would prefer to be challenging for the title, they will be very happy if they can secure third place after this campaign.

The North London outfit endured a torrid start to the season, but have come back strong since the turn of the year to move above their capital rivals Tottenham and Chelsea into third place.

Drawing upon the example of Champions League challengers Chelsea, who lie in a lowly sixth place in the Premier League, Wenger believes his side can be proud if they secure third in the coming weeks.

Wenger said: "We want more, but where we are at the moment we will be happy with third place because there are great teams who would be very happy if they got there. You always want more, but you see that the competition in England is difficult - Chelsea are now in the Champions League [semi-final] against Barcelona, but they are sixth at the moment, that means it is not easy.

"We want to win our next game and that is the only way we can secure our [Champions League] qualification. We have done remarkably well in the last two months and we want to take advantage of that run we have created and show that tomorrow.''

With Arsenal going strong in the league, following a run of nine wins in eleven games, Wenger believes that his side will be able to take confidence and momentum from their end to the season into next year's Premier League campaign.

"We feel that as a team we have improved during the season and it is important now to finish in a strong way. That gives us confidence to do well at the start of next season. We played the first seven games and lost four. It is difficult after to win the championship,'' he said.'

Ahead of this weekend's clash with Chelsea, Wenger did not want to be drawn on whether his rivals would be prioritising the encounter, but the Arsenal manager was clear that it would be a big mistake to expect Chelsea not to turn-up after their big Champions League victory this week.

"We want to focus on our performance, let's not expect any lack of focus from Chelsea,'' he said. "They are on a high so it is always natural to be up for the next game.

He added: "Chelsea were very good at what they did, they decided to defend and only to defend. When you choose the tactics they have chosen you have a 30% chance to win the game.

"They took their chances so you have to give them credit for the discipline they showed, for the consistency of their focus on what they wanted to do, and the fact that they could use the weakness of Barcelona on the counter-attack and set-pieces. The tie is a 50:50 now. If you don't concede at home and you win, in Europe that is always a good result because of the weight of the away goal.''


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