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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 30, 2006

Defiant Wenger confident of revival

A defiant Arsene Wenger maintains Arsenal can get their faltering Premiership campaign back on course with victory over bitter rivals Tottenham.

The Gunners saw their title hopes all but disappear following a second straight away defeat last night, when they went down 2-1 at Fulham and finished the match with 10 men.

Wenger had suggested this next run of games - which also includes a crunch Champions League trip to Porto next week before the clash against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on December 10 - would prove to be the 'moment of truth' for his side's campaign.

While stopping short of conceding the Premiership crown last night, privately the French coach will know it would take something of a minor miracle for Arsenal to overhaul the 16-point deficit on leaders Manchester United, even with a match in hand.

Spurs were one of the top-flight clubs not to be involved in midweek action - a quirk of the fixture list which certainly did not impress the Arsenal manager.

Wenger, though, insists his men will be more than ready for the challenge which awaits them in the first north-London derby to be played at the new 60,000-seater Emirates Stadium.

'We have a difficult game coming up against Tottenham, and I do not agree at all with the way the fixtures have been organised - it is a farce,' bemoaned Wenger.

'I cannot understand how the Premier League can organise midweek fixtures in between Champions League games.

'They are very creative because to get that through anywhere else in Europe, you will have big problems.'

Wenger added: 'We play now against opponents who did not play this week - but we will beat them.'

The Arsenal manager elected to rest several of his first-team regulars against Fulham.

It proved to be a miscalculation, as the Cottagers put the reshaped visitors on the back foot from kick-off before racing into a 2-0 lead inside 19 minutes.

Robin van Persie gave Arsenal hope when he smashed in a superb 30-yard free-kick to reduce the deficit - but even the introduction of Cesc Fabregas at half-time and then England starlet Theo Walcott, who hit the base of the post, could not rescue a point for the Gunners.

Captain Thierry Henry returned to the starting XI following a neck problem - but saw an evening of frustration capped when his second-half strike was ruled out for a dubious offside flag.

Wenger insisted the number of matches Arsenal face between now and the turn of the year left him with little choice but to rotate the squad.

'I had to make changes because some players have played in every game and we also had guys coming back from injury,' said the Gunners boss.

'We had to change the players or we will not get through to January.'

Central defender Philippe Senderos must serve an instant one-match suspension on Saturday following his dismissal for a second yellow card at Craven Cottage.

William Gallas is making good progress with his thigh injury, but the Spurs game may come too soon for his return.