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What They Said: Win leaves Wenger with a smile

ESPN staff
April 6, 2013 « Sizzling Solwhit romps home | Chartbeat test »
Arsene Wenger believes in top-four finish

Arsenal looked as though they were going to struggle to finish inside a spot for next season's Champions League, but the Gunners' 2-1 win at West Brom sees them move into the top-four for the first time in 2013.

Manager Arsene Wenger was delighted with how his side are ending the campaign strongly. "I am very pleased, it is three big points. We have 22 points out of the last 27 but we know our target is to continue to do that until the end of the season."

The victory for Arsenal enabled them to jump ahead of Chelsea and go a single point behind third-placed Tottenham. "We know we have one target to win our games, then we don't have to look at Tottenham or Chelsea. If we lose our games, then you have to look at the results of the others. Our attitude is simple, we have to win the games," the Frenchman said.

"Can we finish fourth? I believe we will do it. We are conscious as well [and] we have to give 100 per cent commitment in every game, and it will be difficult and edgy to the end. We are ready for the fight and we always tell the players 'don't look at everyone else, just focus on ourselves'."

West Brom fought hard until the end but could not snatch an equalising goal after pulling a goal back in the second half. "I thought we played well today. They scored in the first half with one of the very few chances they created. We had good control in the first half but didn't really create enough," Baggies boss Steve Clarke said.

Paul Lambert could not contain his joy after Aston Villa moved out of the relegation zone with a 3-1 win at Stoke, and heaped praise on Matt Lowton for his sensational strike.

"I thought we deserved it. I thought we were terrific in certain parts of the game. For the majority of the game I thought we were outstanding and I thought we thoroughly deserved to win the game," Lambert told Sky Sports after the match. "And the three goals, especially Matty Lowton's - I don't think you will see a better goal in Europe, let alone Britain. It was a world-class finish. He has come from Sheffield United this season, not missed a minute in the games and that was one unbelievable finish."

The result for Stoke means they are just one point ahead of Villa, and are nervously looking over their shoulders with six games remaining.

"I think when things go against you they go against you," Stoke manager Tony Pulis said. "And at the moment things are going against us.

"The biggest thing is, in life when things are going well everyone's happy and it all rolls and doesn't take any character to roll with the good times and what you've got to do when the bad times come is show your character. What we've got to do now as a group, and that's not just as a team that's everyone around the football club, has to stick together and make sure we get the six points to stay up."

Mauricio Pochettino continues to work wonders at Southampton as he guided the Saints to a 2-0 victory over Championship-bound Reading.

"I felt today we played a very good game, but there are still a lot of points to be won," he said. "I am proud of what the players are doing. I think the club has brought me in to do a job and I am doing it well, so I am just pleased overall."

On the encounter against the former Southampton boss, Pochettino revealed his predecessor has invited him for a post-match drink. "I don't have to bring the wine - he invited me, no?" he joked. "It is a tradition in England that I really admire and appreciate. I wished him all the luck in the world out there and told him it was a pleasure to meet him."

Putting the drinks to one side, Nigel Adkins refuses to give in, despite Reading being eight points from safety. "There are two options - you can either hide away or face up to reality and look forward to what you have to do. You can't throw the towel in. You have to get up and go again," Adkins said to the BBC.

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