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Dunne rally call for Villa

Aston Villa vice-captain Richard Dunne (pictured) has urged fans to put aside their grievances with manager Alex McLeish "for a few weeks" and instead support the team's bid to beat the drop.

Dunne has been out since February with a broken collarbone and has watched from the sidelines as McLeish's side have been dragged into the mire.

Villa currently sit three points above the Premier League drop zone with three games to play, following a woeful run of form culminating in Tuesday's 2-1 home defeat by fellow strugglers Bolton.

Dunne, however, believes criticism has been harshly directed at the Scot and insists it is in the fans' interests to support the team.

Ahead of today's clash at West Brom, Dunne said: "It's very important for the fans that they support us, because they want to be watching Premier League football next season.

"We are giving our best and things just haven't gone right for us. But we've got three weeks to go and we need three weeks of massive support from everyone. We need everyone behind us and hopefully they will see the benefit of this season being a season when we've blooded six or seven youngsters in the first team and we can build on that and learn from this experience."



Wenger wary of Crouch

Arsene Wenger admits Arsenal will have to "combat" Stoke's aerial threat at the Britannia Stadium today, but feels the Gunners can play their way to victory.

"We have to combat in the air because with (Peter) Crouch up front, he is technically good, he can bring other people in, but as well we cannot forget to put the ball down and play our game," Wenger said.

"We are ready to win. If you think are we ready to win petty, it depends what you call petty, but we will be faithful to the way we play football, that is for sure. We will not compete with Stoke playing an unusual game, we can only win if we play our game."

Robin van Persie, meanwhile, is delaying talks with Arsenal about his future with the club.



Pardew targeting third

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew is targeting a third-place Premier League finish as he attempts to fulfil Mike Ashley's unlikely European dream. The Magpies will tackle relegation-threatened Wigan at the DW Stadium today looking for a seventh successive league victory, a run which has seen them climb into fourth and to within three points of Arsenal with a game in hand.

Pardew said: "Mike is very determined that we push as hard as we can for the Champions League, and we are going to try to do that for him because he has been very supportive to us this year.

"We are just trying to win every game. We know we have got a difficult run -- on paper, you could say more difficult than the other contenders -- but the teams have still got to beat us and we are in pretty good form."


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