Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has admitted that his side’s two recent defeats against relegation-threatened QPR and Wigan Athletic are down to mental lapses that must be addressed in order to secure third place.
Last season, Manchester City shockingly leapfrogged the Gunners into third place after the last round of fixtures, leaving Wenger’s men with no other choice but to begin this season early to qualify for the Champions League group stage.
The early start to the season proved detrimental for Arsenal as fatigue and injuries, particularly when added to the loss of two high profile players, took its toll on a team that was left to battle it out at the bottom of the table in the opening weeks.
In the last two months, the Gunners have really turned on their form, defeating the likes of Tottenham, Liverpool, Newcastle, and Manchester City to win eight of their 10 league matches since February 11.
Accordingly, they have risen up to third place in the table but the two aforementioned defeats continue to bother Wenger as he desperately aims to finish the season strong this time around.
“We had a little blip twice I believe for mental reasons. Maybe subconsciously we thought, ‘Ok, maybe that would be a little bit easier’ and if you do not keep a clean sheet against these teams then you put yourself in trouble,” Wenger told Arsenal Player regarding his club’s 1-0 defeat to the Rangers and the more recent 2-1 loss at home to Wigan.
The manager added: “You give any team in the world a two-goal advantage and it is difficult. Many times we have come back but not always.”
Nevertheless, Wenger also eased concerns ahead of tomorrow afternoon’s home fixture against Chelsea, insisting the derby clash is not a must-win for his side.
Anything less than a win will leave the Gunners with no more than a three-point advantage over the chasing pack and having played an extra match, they risk losing their advantage altogether if the Spurs and Newcastle manage to pick up wins in the next two rounds.
Wenger refused to get drawn into the details of the mathematical equation, instead focusing on the fact that his men must simply maintain control of their own destriny.
“I don’t know [how many more wins we need], we just want to win the next one. I believe our target is just that. We have to think that we have been on a great run, we have a fantastic opportunity but we also just need to focus on the next game and win it,” the Frenchman explained.
“Only the third place guarantees you to be in the Champions League anyway,” he concluded with emphasis on his side’s main objective.
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