Despite recent disappointments, Sunday remains a useful measuring stick for Wenger. The English press is blamed for many things these days but, in the wake of Arsenal’s demise, the general swathe arenot suggesting wholesale changes are required at Emirates Stadium. The manager concurs and a win this weekend would certainly support his view.
“We are there,” he said. “It is about getting fromwhere we are now and that is a position very close to winning the title. I feel we are strong enough but the pressure is high and it will be difficult.
“Next year Chelsea will invest, Liverpoolwill invest. Liverpool have not won the title for 20 years. However people think you have to win it and yes, of course, we want to win it. But we were very close.”
It is ironic that the three teamsbelow Arsenal – Manchester City, Tottenham and Liverpool – have, or at least had, a real feelgood factor surrounding them this season. Whereas Wenger’s men and Chelsea have not, Manchester Unitedhave only gained theirs in the last month or so.
It is all about expectation of course. Liverpool are on the rise after off-pitch problems and on-field decline while Tottenham have ventured into theunchartered territory of the Champions League. Manchester City look like usurping them this season and, after gleefully dispatching their cross-town rivals, have an FA Cup Final on the horizon.There is a feeling Arsenal’s campaign started to unravel in the other Wembley showpiece.
“Certainly winning the Carling Cup would have taken a little bit of weight from the shoulders of theplayers,” agreed Wenger. “For me, the Carling Cup in itself is not important. But what it could have given, a little bit of playing with less weight on your shoulders.
“I watched, I don’t know 100 Cupfinals, I’ve played myself maybe 15 to 20. It’s difficult to imagine you can lose a cup final like that.”
But Arsenal did and perhaps their season never truly recovered.
The job now is...
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