Monday 19 August 2019

Xhaka: No question about Arsenal’s mentality in top-four race

Arsenal are fifth in the Premier League – two points behind the top four.

Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka says his side have what it takes (John Walton/PA)
Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka says his side have what it takes (John Walton/PA)

By Nick Mashiter, Press Association Sport

Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka has denied the Gunners lack bottle in the race for the Champions League.

They suffered a limp 3-0 defeat at Leicester on Sunday to leave their hopes of finishing in the Premier League’s top four in the balance.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles was sent off in the first half before Youri Tielemans and Jamie Vardy’s late double won it for the Foxes.

Chelsea’s 1-1 draw at Manchester United left Arsenal two points behind the top four but after a third straight defeat – where they have conceded three goals in each game – Xhaka dismissed suggestions the Gunners are soft.

He said: “We fight. It is not that we don’t fight because if we don’t fight, we don’t go to play. But it is difficult to explain. After this game or whenever you lose, it is always difficult to find the right words.

“It is not the right moment to think about the top four. We had three big chances, starting against Crystal Palace, Wednesday against Wolverhampton and we finished yesterday.

“If you don’t take three points in these games, we cannot speak about the top four at the moment.

“We are positive, of course. We have the Europa League (semi-final first leg) as well – Thursday against Valencia – so it is not the best moment to speak about the top four of the Premier League.

“You can win the next two games of course but we have to hope as well.”

Arsenal have lost eight times away from the Emirates in the top flight this season, including defeats at Southampton, West Ham, Everton and Wolves.

Xhaka was left at a loss as to why Unai Emery’s side are so poor on the road this term.

“It is difficult to explain why we don’t play like we do at home and don’t take the points,” said the midfielder.

“It is a different game away and at home. You have to win the duels, you have to run more than the opposition because the fans are behind them.

“All the teams in the Premier League can play football and fight and if you don’t take the fight to them, it looks like yesterday.”

Leicester climbed to eighth, still in the hunt for a possible Europa League qualifying spot.

Tielemans impressed again and the on-loan Monaco midfielder remained non-committal over whether he would sign for the Foxes permanently.

He said: “We’ll see at the end of the season, I am just enjoying everything here and we’ll see after the next two games.

“I’m doing my very best to play at a high level and I will keep going until the end of the season and finish the two games on a high.

“There’s no option (to buy).”

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