By Chris Harris

Arsène Wenger will have “no reason to panic” as the pressure builds on his team in the final weeks of the campaign.

Arsenal were tipped to miss out on a top-four spot when they were struggling for form at the turn of the year but they have now opened up an eight-point lead on Aston Villa, their closest rivals for a Champions League place. Now those same doubters are questioning Arsenal’s ability to lift a trophy as they prepare for Semi-Finals in the FA Cup and Champions League.

A spate of injuries to Wenger’s defence has prompted further questions about Arsenal’s capacity to challenge Chelsea and Manchester United for the big prizes. But the Frenchman is not worried. As far as he is concerned, his players have proved the critics wrong already this season – and they can do so again.

“Of course we want to win [a trophy], we do not play not to win,” insisted Wenger at his pre-match press conference.

“But we are in a strong position. It’s April and we are in the Semi-Final of the Champions League, in a strong position in the League and the Semi-Final of the FA Cup. 

“Nobody expected that from us three months ago. I could show you some [negative] headlines if you want from three months ago. 

“So we have no reason to panic, we have a good reason to feel strong and determined and show we have the requested quality.”

Copyright 2014 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 17 Apr 2009