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Five Aside: Di Maria a skillful crosser

Five Aside 15 hours ago
Read
Apr 21, 2009

Wenger not content to settle for fourth place

Arsene Wenger has challenged Arsenal to put Saturday's 2-1 FA Cup semi-final defeat behind them and focus on trying to upset the odds and finish the season higher than fourth in the Premier League.

Already without several key defenders, the Gunners take on Liverpool at Anfield on Tuesday night missing Togo striker Emmanuel Adebayor, who has a slight hamstring problem, and leading scorer Robin van Persie who misses out with a groin strain.

Full-back Bacary Sagna has recovered from a virus and could feature, and fit-again Croatia forward Eduardo could come into the attack.

Despite a nightmare showing on what was his 24th birthday in Saturday's FA Cup defeat to Chelsea, Polish international Lukasz Fabianski will again deputise in goal for Manuel Almunia (ankle).

Liverpool could go two points clear of Manchester United at the top of the table if they win, while Arsenal - unbeaten in 18 Premier League games - will be looking to consolidate fourth place and also claw back the deficit on the sides above them.

Wenger wants the campaign finished off in style as his team also seek to reach the Champions League final at the expense of holders United.

''We have to accept what happened on Saturday, to deal with it and not repeat it,'' said the Arsenal manager. We have many big games coming up and we feel we can win them.''

Wenger added: ''Winning is what we live for. We cannot be happy with only trying to remain fourth.

''We want to get closer to the top and have a good opportunity to come back to six points (deficit) on Liverpool. Third place is important, second place is important and why not first? You never know.

''You do not want to have regrets. We want to win every single game, no matter what competition we play in.

''Of course we are disappointed having lost in the semi-finals of the FA Cup, but we want to bounce back quickly. We have so many important targets in front of us and want to focus on that.''

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson last week hit back at Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez, whom he accused of ''arrogance'' and of showing ''contempt'' towards Blackburn Rovers once his side had scored their second goal at Anfield earlier this month; while Benitez has not held back in his tirades at Ferguson this season as the race for the championship hots up.

Wenger has been no stranger to verbal sparing during his time in the English game - notably with Ferguson and former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho.

However, the French coach said: ''You want respect in the game, and we managers are responsible for it. I do not want to interfere in that more because I do not know what happened [between Ferguson and Benitez).

''I believe it [mind games] was always something which was overrated a bit. But it is part of our environment and part of the media.

''You never know how much impact it has because it is impossible to measure. It is a little bit like advertising - it is needed but what impact it has on sales you never know. With mind games it's the same.''

Wenger added: ''I believe that it can sometimes have a negative impact rather than a positive impact. There is a rivalry there and I do not give too much importance to it.''

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