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Independiente del Valle
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Philadelphia Union
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By ESPN Staff

Wenger: My young Gunners can stay course

Arsene Wenger has no doubts his young Arsenal side have the 'maturity' needed to 'dig in' and stay the distance in the Premier League title race.

A comfortable 3-0 win over Newcastle at Emirates Stadium moved the Gunners back to the top of the Premier League last night - albeit perhaps only temporarily because Manchester United, who host Portsmouth, can leapfrog them again on Wednesday.

Nevertheless, Wenger's men - led by 19-goal Togo hitman Emmanuel Adebayor - remain very much in the hunt with 14 games left to play, which is a remarkable change in fortunes from last season when they struggled to make an impact on the top two.

The Arsenal manager is confident the progress will continue.

'We can be patient, move the ball and keep our concentration, not making a mistake. Last year we were not capable of doing that,' insisted Wenger.

'They can dig in, and I feel we are much more mature than last season.'

Wenger notes there are likely to be several more twists and turns to the campaign.

'It is too far to go to just concede at every single result,' he said.

'What's important for us is to be level with United and Chelsea going into April, so we need to be consistent and win our games.'

Arsenal's success this season has been down in part to the impressive performances of Adebayor.

The Togo striker - whose best efforts could not lead his country to the African Nations Cup - took his tally for the season to 19 with a bullet header late in the first half.

It was a ninth strike in his last seven appearances - scoring in each and netting the opener in three successive league matches.

A superb 25-yard goal by Mathieu Flamini midway through the second half and another from Cesc Fabregas made sure of an 11th home Premier League win.

Wenger believes Adebayor has come a long way in a short time since arriving from Monaco in January 2006.

'He has many assets for a striker - he is mobile; he is tall and has quick feet,' said the Arsenal boss.

'He can score with his feet, in the air, on crosses with headers. He is a generous type of player - he works for the team.

'He is striker who you dream to have.'

Wenger was pleased with the efforts of his side, who have shown few ill-effects from the Carling Cup semi-final defeat at Tottenham last week.

He said: 'We knew when to hold the ball and to accelerate.

'We could have scored more. But Newcastle worked very hard, and it was important for us not to make a defensive mistake.'

Wenger also revealed midfielder Abou Diaby has signed a new deal which will keep him at Arsenal until 2012.

Flamini is, though, out of contract in the summer - and talks are on-going with the rejuvenated midfielder.

Wenger said: 'His work-rate is tremendous; his composure, timing of the runs and final ball are great. That was not the case before.'

The Arsenal manager feels positive over contract negotiations.

He said: 'We are talking. I am hoping to finalise it.

'He wants to stay, and I want him to stay - so we will find an agreement.

'I am not especially concerned, because I believe what he tells me.'