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Wenger admits Arsenal running scared

ESPN staff
April 7, 2014 « Grand National start hearing expected imminently | Test Wayin World Cup »
Everton close in on fourth spot

Arsene Wenger admits that Arsenal are suffering from the fear factor as their season threatens to fall apart.

Their 3-0 Premier League defeat to Everton on Sunday left the manager a "massive worry" with his proud record of always guiding the club to Champions League qualification in jeopardy.

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Arsenal captiulated at Goodison Park with the pressure of a potentially pivotal match proving too much once again. They had already suffered heavy defeats against Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool this season and talk of a title bid must feel like a distant memory for Wenger.

"Was there a lack of fight? You could say that," the manager said. "It is a massive worry to lose a game like that. We have to analyse it well and come back with a different attitude, with more personality and stronger challenges. We have to go back to basics.

"Everton were better, sharper and deserved to win. The only time we looked like coming back into the game was in the second half, then we gave an easy goal away. Then that was it.

"It will be difficult to finish in top four but first we have to focus on the quality of our performances.

"I wouldn't question the spirit of this team but we have lost something on the confidence front. We looked disjointed when we had to run after the score. The other big defeats away from home have taken some of the charisma from this team."

Injuries key to keeping Arsenal at bay

  • Everton manager Roberto Martinez has played down suggestions Everton are favourites to finish above Arsenal and believes keeping his team injury-free will be crucial.
  • Leon Osman was substituted after seven minutes following a cut to his left eye from a challenge with Bacary Sagna, but while Martinez says his vice-captain should be okay, he is hoping for no other players to pick up injuries as the season draws to a close.
  • "It is important that we don't lose players and we get everyone refreshed and ready, so nothing changes," he said."
  • And the Spaniard has called for his side to remain focused for the remaining six matches, saying: "Not to sound too romantic about it, but I said before the game that whatever happened there would still be 18 points to fight for."

Everton's win moved them to within a point of fourth-placed Arsenal, with a game in hand against Crystal Palace at Goodison Park.

However, Wenger, not for he first time this season, remains defiant. "I am absolutely 100% determined to fight to make the top four.

"The fight is very open and is depending not only on us. Everton is in a strong position but we have confronted that before and it is [a question of] how we respond."

Arsenal have five games left, none against teams in the top eight, but have not won in their last four and Wenger accepted they have to play much better than they did against Everton if they are to qualify for the Champions League for a 17th successive season.

"We have still a programme that is feasible," he said. "We have to first focus on the quality of our performances before we dream of places.

"Our performance was not convincing: not defensively, not offensively. The penetration and incisiveness of our games is missing. It was a very disappointing result and a very disappointing performance."

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