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Jan 17, 2014

Title will be 'easier' than top-four

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger claimed winning the Premier League this season will be ‘easier psychologically’ than their late charge to the top-four in the last campaign.

• Mangan: The truth is out there

Wenger’s side were written off by their critics when they lost to north London rivals Tottenham in the first week of March 2013, before they went on an unbeaten run for the rest of the campaign that secured fourth spot and a Champions League return.

And Wenger now believes his team have an easier mental hurdle to overcome after getting used to life as Premier League leaders in recent weeks.

“We have gone from a club who looked like they had not the ambition to be capable to fight,” Wenger told reporters ahead of Saturday’s Premier League game against Fulham at Emirates Stadium.

“When you are fifth or sixth and you have to convince everybody you will make it to be in the top four you have to push and not make any mistake because you know that from now until the end of the season with 10 games to go, you cannot drop one point.

“It is like bringing a boat into a port with no room for going an inch right or left or the whole boat explodes.

“When you are in our position today, it is natural motivation, natural incitement to go. It is easier psychologically.”

Wenger, questioned whether he was the man to carry Arsenal forward as they struggled to live up to expectations last season, is convinced the mood has altered for the better around the club now.

“What has changed,” he pondered. “Bringing players like [Mesut] Ozil in and not losing our own players. Suddenly people believe again and that we can fight.

“What I basically said [to myself last summer] is ‘can I deliver the quality?’ because people were questioning that. I said: ‘Okay, I can listen to that and I want to make sure I can deliver.’ My commitment has never been a problem.

“I am convinced I can. I was always convinced I can, but it has to be shown concretely by numbers [success on the field]. Are you good or not good?”

Meanwhile, Wenger confirmed he still has to monitor the fitness of midfielder Jack Wilshere, even though the young England star returned to top form after another injury plagued season.

“I still have to be cautious, for the rest of the season we need to listen well to how he feels. We are monitoring him daily,” he added.

“Jack has gone through the most sensitive period, but to think that he is completely over it, and that we do not have to consider how he feels, would be a mistake.

“At his age you want to come out every day and want the ball to play, so at the moment, he is good.”

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