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Apr 26, 2013

Wenger confirms guard of honour

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has confirmed that his players will afford newly crowned Premier League champions Manchester United a guard of honour when they take to the field at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

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Some Gunners supporters may be uncomfortable with the prospect of the club's former captain Robin van Persie being offered such lavish plaudits when he makes his first return to Arsenal since his move to United last summer, but Wenger insists his side have to show respect to a team he has described as 'worthy' champions.

"First of all, I am French, I work in England and I want the English tradition to be respected," stated Wenger. "When you work abroad, you respect the culture of the country. That is part of the tradition of English football and of course I want it to be respected.

"I hope (guard of honour) will happen for us next year. Will it add something to our motivation (against United), I don't know."

Wenger admitted it was tough to pass a conclusive judgement whether this Manchester United side are as strong as some of the other championship-winning teams Sir Alex Ferguson has assembled throughout his historic reign, but he applauded their consistency in collecting their 20th English league title.

"It's difficult to assess United," he said. "They won it in a discreet, but secure way. They have been quietly efficient, the most consistent in the league. They have 27 wins, that is quite impressive. They have been remarkable at home, as they always are at Old Trafford. They won it in a convincing way.

"I'm looking forward to our performance on Sunday. You focus on your own team and it is an interesting opportunity for us to achieve something special on Sunday.

"They can relax and it is very difficult to know (whether United's focus will be as strong on Sunday). No matter what state Man United may be in, we need a great performance to beat them.

"I expect them to come and try to play their game, try to win like they always do when they come to the Emirates, but we can only focus on our own form and we are on a very strong run. We have a good opportunity to show we have come forward in this league since we played them at Old Trafford. I am confident we will do it."

Meanwhile, Wenger has disputed the suggestion of Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas that all of the side's pushing for a top-four-finish will drop points in the final few game of the season, as he has challenged his players to produce a perfect finish.

"It is possible for us to win the last four games," he added. "We want maximum points. It is a tough task, but that is our target. Our target is to be in the top four, minimum. Therefore we know for a long time now we have no room to drop points. This is another vital game for us."

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