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Mar 15, 2013

Wenger: Every game a cup final now

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has told his players that they have ten 'cup finals' left to play in the Premier League this season, as he has urged them to draw inspiration from their heroic performance against Bayern Munich on Wednesday night.

• Blog: Arsenal now have blueprint

Wenger is hoping his side to take confidence from the 2-0 victory against Bayern, even though he admits the pain of his side's Champions League exit on the away-goal rule is still lingering ahead of Saturday's game against Swansea City.

Now the Arsenal boss is training all his focus on the battle for a top-four finish, as he insists his team cannot rely on London rivals Tottenham and Chelsea to drop points in the season's run-in.

"We have to keep the positives and be inspired for the rest of the season by this positive result and for us, every game is a cup final now," Wenger told reporters at Arsenal's London Colney training base.

"We were not happy (after Bayern), but we felt we did our job by winning the game. We are more frustrated because we are out of the competition, but we have to keep the positives and be inspired for the rest of the season by this positive result.

"I always believed this team had the basic quality because you don't go to Bayern Munich with you back to the wall and win unless you do, but we have to improve some aspects on the pitch and as well mentally. We need to increase the belief of the team and that will produce more consistency.

"Ten games is a long way to go and it is down to consistency. I think the away games will have a final part in our final position of the season. Tomorrow is a big away game so it is important we prepare well for it.

"We can only hope they (Tottenham and Chelsea) drop points, but we cannot influence that. All we can influence is that we don't drop points.

"If you ask any club, the first priority will to be in the Champions League. For us, it is the same. It will be our main focus and if we can do it again, that is our target. It will give us a chance next year to fight at the top level."

Wenger accepts his side will face a tough challenge as they take on a Swansea side that secured a fine Premier League win at Emirates Stadium in December, as he suggested Swans boss Michael Laudrup is in the running to land the Premier League's Manager of the Year award, having already topped a poll among his fellow bosses organised by the League Managers' Association.

"He is a contender (for Manager of the Year) because his team has played well, they have been remarkably consistent and plays good football," Wenger added. "It was a difficult act to follow Brendan Rodgers, who was successful there.

"There was a big question mark about him when he arrived because Swansea did well last season. They have continued their progress and he has brought some good players in as well. They play good football.

"First of all he has a big experience as a manager in Spain and he has experience of international level because he played in many countries. The other advantage he had was he knew Spanish players because he worked there."

Wenger has confirmed that Kieran Gibbs is out of Saturday's trip to Swansea and he has yet to make a decision on who will start in goal at the Liberty Stadium after he left first choice keeper Wojciech Szczesny out of his side for the Bayern Munich game, citing 'mental' fatigue as the reason for his decision to recall Lukasz Fabianski.

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