By Richard Clarke
Arsène Wenger could not care less about the Champions League Quarter-Final clash with Liverpool - for the moment at least.
At his press conference on Friday afternoon, much of the emphasis was on that mouthwatering all-English tie in the last eight of Europe's top competition.
However Wenger himself was much more interested in Middlesbrough, who visit Emirates Stadium on Saturday. It is probable that by the time that game kicks-off, Manchester United will have taken over top spot from Arsenal in the Premier League. And, despite the importance of the Champions League, the Frenchman does not want to see a season's work undone because of Continental concerns.
"All three [title contenders] feel that it is in their hands," said Wenger. "It's in the hands of Chelsea, it's in the hands of Arsenal, it's in the hands of Man United. So we want to focus immediately.
"We aren't sitting there waiting for the Liverpool game, we are focussing on the game on Saturday. If we are in a good shape in the Premier League it will help us to have less pressure when we play Liverpool ."
The draw has meant Arsenal face an intense three weeks. After this weekend, their next six games are: Chelsea (a), Bolton (a), Liverpool (h), Liverpool (h), Liverpool (a), Manchester United (a).
"When you fight for the big prizes, you get into March, April and every game can change your season from fantastic to super-fantastic to terrible," said Wenger. "That's what you want.
"But what would be really terrible is not to fight for the Premier League and be out of it."Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 14 Mar 2008