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Liverpool look to close gap vs. Spurs

By ESPN Staff

Derby row won't spur Arsenal on - Wenger

Arsene Wenger maintains Arsenal will not take any added incentive into their quest for European glory just to deny Tottenham the chance to play in the Champions League next season.

Spurs remain in pole position to secure fourth place in the Premiership following yesterday's 1-1 draw in the last north-London derby at Highbury.

Controversy surrounded Robbie Keane's goal on 65 minutes, however, as Spurs played on despite the fact Arsenal defender Emmanuel Eboue down injured after he had collided with team-mate Gilberto on the halfway line.

Wenger was involved in a furious touchline war of words with Spurs boss Martin Jol - and there was no handshake at the end of the match.

Arsenal, though, could yet scupper Tottenham's bid for elite level European football next season should they go on to win the Champions League in May, and would then return as holders at the expense of the fourth-placed domestic side - a rule brought in by UEFA following Liverpool's triumph last season.

The Arsenal manager said: 'We are responsible for our behaviour and we will not be motivated to win the Champions League because of Tottenham; we want to win the trophy because it is the trophy.

'It is just disappointing. I usually shake hands with the other manager, but he walked away.

Wenger added: 'They behaved as they behaved. I am not naive enough to believe that they did not see it.

'If he had said to me: `Listen, what could I do about it?' I would have been fine, but he did not.'

Before that hypothetical situation could become reality, of course, Wenger must first guide his men past Villarreal to reach Paris, where they would then face either Barcelona or AC Milan.

With Tuesday night's second leg in mind, where Arsenal will defend a 1-0 lead, Wenger opted to leave captain Thierry Henry on the bench, along with Cesc Fabregas and Eboue, while midfielders Freddie Ljungberg and Alexander Hleb did not feature at all.

Wenger, though, insisted the team's hectic end-of-season schedule left him little choice.

The Arsenal boss said: 'I do not believe it was a selection problem. We play every three days and you can suffer.

'There is a lot of tension in Champions League games and that means you can always have a flat half, which is what happened against Spurs. You need time to recover from it.

'Of course people will say that we did not win the game because Thierry did not play - but at the end of the day, if Spurs had not stolen that goal, we would have won the game.'

Henry came off the bench just before Tottenham took the lead, and went on to produce a brilliant finish from Emmanuel Adebayor's pass with six minutes left, controlling the ball expertly with his right foot before then dispatching a low strike past Paul Robinson into the far corner with the outside of the same boot.

The Arsenal skipper understood the reasons why he had to be used only for the closing stages.

Henry said: 'You have to accept it. I do not like it, but you have to accept it. In the past, I did not accept it and I got upset.

'When the boss used to ask me how I was, I would say I was fine all of the time - but fine all of the time does not work well. I struggled with my Achilles and groin.

'A lot of people do not want to know whether you are fine or not fine, but you have to accept that sometimes you cannot play all of the games and be at your best.

'I am a human being. If you want to be fresh and sharp, then somewhere along the line you have to take a break from games.

'When we do not win, then people say it is because I was not playing - but sometimes you just have to accept it.'

Wenger, meanwhile, could be forced into a change at the back, with defender Philippe Senderos hobbling off with a knee problem yesterday, which may signal a return for Sol Campbell, who had been out following an operation on his broken nose.

Wenger added: 'I do not know whether Sol will come back for Tuesday. We will have to wait and see how he is.'