Thursday 25 May 2017

Wenger tells Gunners to go for the jugular in title charge

Jamie Holland

ARSENE WENGER accepts draws could be fatal to Arsenal's Premier League title aspirations.

The Gunners resume their title challenge at home to Everton tonight, aiming to keep within striking distance of leaders Manchester United, who are currently five points ahead. Having lost six matches already, and three at the Emirates Stadium, Wenger accepts there can be little room for further error.

"We know to have a chance to win the championship we have to win our home games," he said. "If you look at Everton's record it is something surprising because they lost only six games and we have lost five.

"We are at the top of the table and they lost six and are at the bottom of the table. The difference is they had so many draws. They have not had bad results, but a draw in this league punishes you."

Arsenal head into what could well be a defining period of their campaign without influential midfielder Samir Nasri, who is set to be sidelined for at least three weeks after suffering a hamstring problem in last Sunday's 2-1 FA Cup fourth-round win over Huddersfield.

Health

The likes of Robin van Persie, Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere will all come back into the side tonight, and Wenger recognises the need for a clean bill of health.

"You see now that to go for all the competitions, it is an important part of the season where you don't want to lose your players," the Arsenal manager said. "I don't like it when the muscle injuries kick in and hopefully we do not get more because that is not a good sign."

Arsenal have a Wembley date with Birmingham in the Carling Cup final at the end of February but, while they remain fighting on all four fronts, Wenger accepts "history shows that it is extremely difficult" to sustain such progress.

However, the Gunners boss insisted: "It is very difficult to say to my players, 'we do not go for this competition now' because we are in there and it is difficult to choose. We are not at the stage where we have to make a choice, but we want to go for everything."

Wenger is likely to see if he can recall a couple of players from their loan spells, like Jay Emmanuel-Thomas at Cardiff and Henri Lansbury, who is away at Norwich.

Reports in Poland, meanwhile, have suggested 'keeper Lukasz Fabianski may need surgery on his shoulder injury, which makes the return to fitness of former No 1 Manuel Almunia, who produced a couple of good saves against Huddersfield, a timely boost.

Tim Cahill is due back today after representing Australia in the Asian Cup, but Everton manager David Moyes insisted: "I plan to give Tim a few days off. We have missed him, not just because of his goals, but what he brings to the team."

Irish Independent

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