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Wenger: Players lack confidence

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has urged his players to shed their fear factor as he looks to get the Gunners' season back on track and distance himself from the "crisis" afflicting his team.

• Blog: Cazorla lifeline

After an FA Cup defeat against Blackburn was followed quickly by a Champions League thumping at the hands of Bayern Munich last week, Arsenal came within five minutes of what Wenger suggested would have been a disastrous draw against Aston Villa on Saturday.

But the Arsenal boss is convinced his players will start to flourish once again if they release the nervous tension that he believes is inhibiting them, with next Sunday's crucial North London derby against Tottenham at White Hart Lane the perfect platform to do just that.

"Right now, confidence is our best friend and a lack of confidence is our worst enemy and both of them are very fragile," Wenger told Arsenal's official website. "We were nervous (against Villa) because we had absolutely to win. We had hit twice the wall in one week. When you drive in a car and you have an accident at 100 miles an hour, you say 'ok, we go again'.

"If you hit it again three days later, you will then drive a little bit more cautiously. That's exactly how it was against Villa, but the win was absolutely vital. I mean it when I say we cannot drop any more points against anyone, wherever we play."

Wenger insists his players need to be "ready for the fight" in the final 11 games of the season, as the race for a third and fourth spot in the Premier League is threatening to develop into a three way fight between the London trio of Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham.

"It could be a tight fight until the end and we are ready for that," he said. "We are ready to fight for the football we love to play. We continued to play until the last second of the game and we will continue to do that until the end of the season.

"Recently in the Premier League we have not conceded too many, but I think we have to improve a little bit the number of goals we are scoring because in recent games we created a lot of chances but didn't take advantage."

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