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Wenger full of title fight

Arsene Wenger is in no doubt Arsenal have the fight to battle their way back into the Premier League title race.

The Gunners host Liverpool tomorrow looking to close the seven-point gap on leaders Manchester United, who tackle local rivals City in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.

Wenger's men returned to winning ways at Blackpool last weekend following a run of three successive draws.

Striker Robin van Persie and midfielder Abou Diaby were involved in a half-time bust-up at Bloomfield Road, where the Gunners had been 2-0 ahead before the Tangerines fought back only to be hit on the break as the visitors ran out 3-1 winners.


Wenger feels such shows of emotions -- the Dutchman unhappy with his team-mate's needless booking, which left him walking a disciplinary tightrope -- is evidence Arsenal do have what it takes to claw their way back in contention ahead of the showdown with United at the Emirates Stadium on May 1.

"They are two good friends who get on very well. Van Persie was concerned about Diaby getting a first yellow card and that he gets a second one because we all have in our memories what happened at Newcastle (when Diaby was sent off). Diaby accepted it and said 'okay'," Wenger said.

"Of course, I am pleased (about the passion). I never was worried about the mentality of the team.

"Nobody takes into consideration that in football you lose sometimes, but it is as well how you lose."

Wenger added: "I am very proud to manage this team because they are focused, they want to do well.

"Unfortunately, we have been hit very hard, but we have not been out of every competition early on having not performed. This team has given absolutely everything to perform in every competition and we are still today in the championship."

Wenger, meanwhile, has warned Jack Wilshere could have no choice but to miss England's senior matches at the start of next season if he is selected for the European U21s Championships in Denmark this summer.

The 19-year-old midfielder has enjoyed a breakthrough season with the Gunners but is fast closing in on 50 matches for club and country having been handed a first competitive England start by Fabio Capello for the Euro 2012 qualifier victory in Wales last month. U21s coach Stuart Pearce is keen for Wilshere to be part of his group in Denmark in June -- a month which also sees another senior qualifier against Switzerland at Wembley.


Wilshere has spoken of his desire to be involved for England at any level, hoping an agreement can be reached between Arsenal and the Football Association for his release this summer.

Wenger, however, has warned that at some stage Wilshere must be given a break.

"I can understand that the boy wants to go, but (if he does) he will not be fit enough to play for the friendly in August and he should be short for the qualifier in September," he said.