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Feb 22, 2013

Wenger: Top four about pride, not money

Arsene Wenger has claimed Arsenal can live without the financial windfall guaranteed by a season in the Champions League, but he does not want to contemplate failure to qualify for the competition again this term.

• Blog: Focus now all on league

Wenger has admitted that his side have to beat Aston Villa as the Gunners return to Premier League action at Emirates Stadium on Saturday if they want to keep their hopes of a top-four finish alive, but he will not contemplate a radical overhaul of his squad despite their woes of the last week.

"Financially we can live with it (not qualifying for Champions League), but on the sporting front, no, and the sporting front is the priority," Wenger said.

Asked about whether he will consider a change of direction at Arsenal, he said: "Every incident cannot change completely your mind on people you trust. There is no possibility in any club to change direction every time you lose a football game or you don't go anywhere.

"Football is made of short-term and long-term, but a long-term plan is vital. I know that today in society it is very difficult to push that through, but people who are responsible have to do that.

"I prepared myself for some suffering when we moved to the Emirates, yes, because we knew we were under restricted resources for a while.

"The main target was to be in the Champions League because we had to pay back our stadium. Did I expect to go out against Blackburn and to lose against Bayern? Honestly, no."

Wenger went on to claim that a lack of assurance among his players, and not a lack of quality, is the primary reason for Arsenal's failings this season. "I feel that we lack a little bit of belief and confidence and you could see that (against Bayern)," he said. "When you look at the numbers we are 12th in the league in the first half and top of the league in the second half.

"That shows we have not a problem of quality, we have a problem of belief and confidence, and that is noticeable especially in the first half. Again, against Bayern Munich, we were 2-0 down and that happened a few times this year.

"After, it's difficult, but I believe we have the basic quality and we lack a little bit of what you would call the 'charisma' that Bayern had, because they had basically not lost a game the whole season. And people forget we played against a team that played in two Champions League finals in the last three years. We didn't play against a poor side and the game was a top-quality game - the intensity of the game was unbelievable."

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