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Mar 1, 2013

Wenger: There's only one Gareth Bale

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has suggested Tottenham are playing a dangerous game by relying so heavily on Gareth Bale in their push for a Champions League return.

• Limbert: As simple as stopping Bale?
• Fitch: Joint Arsenal-Tottenham XI

Bale was crowned Premier League Player of the Month for February after a run that has seen him net eight goals in his last six games for Spurs, but Wenger is not convinced that the Welshman can continue to produce match-winning displays every week.

After insisting he will not come up with a master plan to halt Bale in Sunday's north London derby at White Hart Lane, Wenger has now hinted that he is content to build a team around a host of star names rather than relying on one leading light.

"At the moment, he (Bale) has a good conversion rate from the chances he creates to the number of goals he scores," says Wenger. "To maintain that percentage, which is at the moment maybe the best in Europe, will be very, very difficult.

"We have players who can score from a number of positions and I prefer it like this. (Theo) Walcott can score, (Olivier) Giroud can score, (Santi) Cazorla, (Lukas) Podolski and (Jack) Wilshere. We have many who can score.

"The statistics show we have scored more goals than last year and that was because we relied so heavily on (Robin) Van Persie last season. But in that situation, you are always worried that the main player gets injured."

Wenger went on to insist he will not focus on the threat posed by Bale in local derby that may well go a long way to deciding whether it is Tottenham or Arsenal playing Champions League football next season.

"Bale is not the subject of our worry for the next two or three days - it would be a complete mistake to focus on any player from Tottenham.

"There is nobody special that you least like to face. All players have different qualities. There is no player you are absolutely scared to face. As a manager, over the last 15 years, you focus on your team preparing the best."

Wenger would not be drawn into the debate over how much Bale might be worth, saying: "In England, it's always about numbers.

"When you speak about a football player, I don't see a number. I see his qualities, his deficiencies and what he can improve, how good he can become. I love football, the rest and the numbers is of very little interest to me."

Bale has been linked with a £50 million summer move to Real Madrid or Barcelona, but Wenger suggested the Spurs star does not need to move abroad to fulfil his potential.

"Everybody wants to come to England," he explained. "We have the best league in the world here, the most passionate, so I don't see any reason why a player should go abroad."

The Arsenal manager said his side, four points behind their opponents, would need to remain calm if they were to succeed at White Hart Lane.

"I believe it will be important to be calm and focused and to get the two together right," he added.

"The nerves always play a part in this kind of game. The general team feeling will come from every individual being calm."

And he said his side would address their tendency of starting games slowly, adding: "We will imagine we are not at the start of the game, but that we are in the second half.

"The game on Sunday will have an important psychological impact on the rest of the season.

"Anything can happen, but let's not forget that there are not only two teams involved. Chelsea are involved as well and Man City may be a bit too far [ahead], but you never know."

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