Arsene Wenger sat down at the training ground on Monday for his penultimate pre-match press conference of the Premier League season.
Scroll down for some of the key quotes ahead of our game against Sunderland:
- 'Alexis developed his assist potential'
- Team news: Alexis, Koscielny, Gibbs
- Will the Ox be fit for the cup final?
on our chances of reaching top four…Our chances depend on winning our games. We have 69 points, we can get to 75. That will be four points more than last year, so let’s focus on finishing as well as we can. We have created a momentum again. We had a difficult period and we recovered from it. The only chance we have to be in the top four is to win our games.
on whether it’s a big ask…A big ask is to always win and that’s always difficult.
on whether Arsenal are outsiders to reach top four…We are mathematically, and it doesn’t only depend on us. The only influence we can have is to win our games.
on the momentum coming from winning three games in a row…I’m very positive because it looks like we’ve got stronger in every single game. Against us, the other teams fight and we have to dig deep every time to win the games. We’ve won six of our last seven games and we have created the momentum again after having a period where we were not stable away from home. We look strong again now and we’ve won our last three away games, so it’s positive.
on whether his team has lacked character…I wouldn’t say that. I believe that the players have character, the players have spirit. When you have gone through the period we have gone through with such a hostile environment, you don’t recover if you’re not strong. The players have been extremely strong to respond well in the way that we did. We lacked defensive stability in some important games this season, and we had to completely rethink the system. I had to make some changes and now we look more stable at the moment.
on why we tend to finish the season strongly…Because we do our job properly and we are focused until the end. As long as we are in competition, we prepare the teams well and that’s why we were always finishing strong, because we kept our focus.
on if finishing outside the top four would affect his summer plans…I believe finishing outside the top four will not have any influence on the way the club will be led and how we will behave on the transfer market.
on what finishing on 75 points and winning FA Cup would mean to him…It would mean that the season has not gone as well as I hoped at the start of the season. Not as well as I hoped at the start of the season because I started the season to win the Premier League and when you don’t do it, you’re never completely satisfied, like everybody else. But as well, it’s not disastrous. I think what’s encouraging is the way the team develops recently and the way the ambition of the team is back. Overall I think it’s difficult to get points in this league, it’s difficult for everybody.
on how confident he is that Liverpool will slip up against Middlesbrough…Confident or not, I don’t know. You face a problem in a different way. When you’re a manager, you want your team to give absolutely its best until the last second to have a chance, to have no regrets. That’s what you do. You focus on your own team and hope that results go for you at some stage. But we focus on just doing well.
on if he looks at other teams’ remaining games…No, not really. Some teams turn up, some teams are on holiday. It’s very difficult to plan. You just want your team to do well and to focus completely until the last. I think to be professional is to do your job properly until the last second of the season.
on importance of taking it to last day of season…It is vital. Just for the fact that we can look in the mirror and say ‘we did it properly’. That’s for me absolutely vital. I work every day not to turn up halfway, [but to] turn up properly and do my job properly. If we don’t have the results, I’m very disappointed. But what is not excusable is not to give your best.
on saying that the recent run has shown unity - and whether that was missing earlier this season…No, I think no team is absolutely, on the mental front and the confidence front, consistent from the first to the last day of the season. But every team suffers at a moment in the season and when we suffered, I think we suffered a lot. After we went out of the Champions League, in very special circumstances, because you look at these two games and you take the first halves, we would have qualified. So it was very difficult to swallow for the team, the way it happened and it took us some time to recover. When you’re in a difficult period you can be divided or united and I think we responded in a united way.
on whether he thinks a possible 75-point total would show progress…I don’t want to go into conclusions too early. It shows that if you can make 75 points it’s a decent total because I won the championship with 78. But this season it looks at the end of the season that many teams who have been assured to stay in the league have just released their focus and as well, you had basically two leagues, the top six and the rest of the Premier League. Everybody took too many points from lower teams. That usually did not happen in the years before.
on the prospect of fans not turning up against Sunderland and what his message would be…My message is always the same, it is to support the team.
on it being important that the fans stick with the team…Of course.
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