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May 13, 2013

Wenger: Arsenal destiny in our hands

Arsene Wenger has expressed satisfaction with the fact Arsenal's destiny is now in their own hands, despite the pressure on the team to win their last two games in order to ensure Champions League football.

• Blog: Deja vu for Wigan game

The French boss's team take on Wigan at the Emirates on Tuesday, with both sides badly needing a win. Arsenal are currently in fifth and two points behind Tottenham Hotspur with a game in hand, while anything other than a victory for Wigan would effectively relegate them just three days after their remarkable FA Cup final victory on Saturday.

Wenger, however, insisted that represents significant progress from the Gunners' dire situation in February.

"They are important games but that's what you want to play for," the Arsenal boss said. "Two months ago we had no chance to be where we are today so we can only be happy with what we have done. Two months ago our destiny was not in our hands. Today it is so we have done that very well, so now let's finish the job and continue to play like we did until now and take the points.

"It is a very important game for both sides, so we expect huge commitment on both sides. We play at home and we want to take advantage of that. We are on a remarkable run, we have been hugely consistent and we are in a position where our destiny depends on us and we want to finish the job."

In pointing to his own side's run of six wins and two draws in his last eight games, Wenger also said he was not overly concerned about Wigan's sensational victory at Wembley and the manner in which they stuck to their own plan. Instead, he said he did not know how Wigan would play in their second match in London in three days.

"It doesn't worry me especially because I know they have the quality," he said. "Having said that, it is a surprise that they are in the position that they are in the championship because they have produced a remarkable game on Saturday and they played absolutely remarkably well on both flanks. They defended very well and they kept Man City very quiet for a big part of the game.

"I don't know - it's a difficult position. They had a contrasting week because they were on a low against Swansea when they lost at home, a game that of course was a massive game for them. But you could see on Saturday they have quality and they played a remarkable game when they played against Man City. What kind of team will we face? We don't know. We know just one thing; we want to be at our best in a game of that importance.

"Martinez has a positive philosophy. Above all, what you want is that he tries to play good football and has a positive philosophy. That for me is a good basis to go forward and move higher up."

Wenger, meanwhile, said he had decided who would start up front in the absence of the suspended Olivier Giroud, but would not reveal who that would be. He did, however, say that Theo Walcott can score from the flanks - despite the forward's desire to play through the middle - and backed Lukas Podolski to return to form despite a recent dip.

"I think [Walcott] can score from the right or through the middle," Wenger said. "He played many games through the middle and finally I moved him again on the flanks. I believe on the flanks he's still very comfortably.

"He [Podolski] had a good start - a very strong start. After that, he suffered a little bit physically and mentally because in Germany they have a break in mid-season. We have seen now with many German players that when they come in for the first season, mentally they suffer a little bit. Now he has recovered and is getting stronger again."

Wenger also put the fact Podolski is frequently substituted down to his adjustment to the physical demands of the English game.

"On the flanks is the most demanding position. Physically, especially in England, it's very tough. He's a striker. Many times we were in a position where we are in a winning position in the final 20 minutes and then I take a bit more of a guarantee defensively and take him out of the team sometimes."

Wenger, meanwhile, said that everyone else in the squad is available with goalkeeper Lukas Fabianski set to return and Kieran Gibbs recovering well from a thigh injury.

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