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Mar 28, 2014

Wenger: Arsenal still in the title race

LONDON -- Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has insisted his team will have their "last chance" to reignite their challenge for the Premier League title when they take on Manchester City at Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

Dall: Same old Arsenal
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A 6-0 defeat at Chelsea last weekend, followed by a 2-2 home draw against Swansea on Tuesday, has left Arsenal looking over their shoulders and fearing they may miss out on a top-four finish in the Premier League, but Wenger is still trying to keep his focus on more ambitious targets.

Insisting another fourth-place finish is "not acceptable" after a relatively promising season for Arsenal, Wenger is urging supporters to stand behind his team.

Wenger's philosophy has always stayed the same.
Wenger has faced heavy criticism in the past week after his side dropped six points off league leaders Chelsea

When asked whether his team faced a make-or-break game when they play City this weekend, Wenger said: “It is [Arsenal’s last chance] yes, but I believe we have to keep going despite the last two negative results.

“We have not given up [on the title race], believe me. We can show that. It is our attitude that will decide that. Champions keep going when everyone else gives up and we have an opportunity to show that we have that mentality.

“We are in an important place in the Premier League, we are in the semifinals of the FA Cup. At the moment, it’s not as gloom and doom as everyone paints the situation. We live in an age where every game is a definite judgement forever. Life is movement, life is change. Life is about having disappointment and transforming them into positives.

“If people say that Everton can catch us [for fourth place], that means we can catch the teams above us as well. It is the next game that is very important and it’s against Manchester City, who fight at the top. When you play a favourite, you have a chance to shorten the distance with them.

“The importance of this game will help the players to lift themselves.We are highly determined to give our best until the end of the season.

“This is an important part of the season and we want them [the fans] to be behind the team. You cannot fault the commitment of the team against Swansea on Tuesday. We were tremendous. We were unlucky to concede an own goal in the last minute, it can happen.

“The mood is of course disappointing, but we want to prepare for the next game. I believe that we have a feeling that we gave everything against Swansea and we were unlucky with the result. We want to put it right against City.”

Wenger has often suggested in recent years that a top four finish was akin to winning a trophy, but that ethos appears to have been banished in a season when his side have been top of the table for long periods.

“We want to finish first in the league and the other priorities are still there,” he said. “The first priority, it’s never good enough to be anything but first. You want to be in the Champions League of course. It is never good enough to finish anything but first in sport. The ultimate target is to be the best. Second, third, fourth is not so good.

“Look, if you ask any team, they all want to be in the top four. You cannot say it’s a shame, but you do not work day and night to be second.

“I believe we were 17 or 18 weeks top of the league this season, so the gap is not definite. We need to continue to work well and maybe we have been a bit unlucky with the injuries. We had too many players out at the same period. We [also need to] strengthen the squad as well.”

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