Wenger fights to raise Arsenal spirits

Arsene Wenger faces a fight to convince his players that Arsenal can still win the Premier League title as they prepare for a crucial clash at Bolton on Sunday.

Updated: April 23, 2011 09:01 IST
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Bolton: Arsene Wenger faces a fight to convince his players that Arsenal can still win the Premier League title as they prepare for a crucial clash at Bolton on Sunday.

Wenger's side travel to the Reebok stadium with morale at a low ebb after the Gunners squandered leads to draw their last two games against Liverpool and Tottenham.

They conceded a last-minute penalty against Liverpool last Sunday and threw away a two-goal advantage to finish 3-3 against Tottenham in the north London derby on Wednesday.

Arsenal have drawn five of their last six league matches and are six points behind Manchester United when they could have been breathing down the necks of the Premier League leaders.

They have even lost second place to resurgent Chelsea and France right-back Bacary Sagna revealed the lack of belief in the Arsenal camp when he conceded that the title is almost out of reach.

Failure to win at Bolton this weekend would end Arsenal's fading hopes, yet Wenger is refusing to give up on catching United.

"Chelsea are back in and they play Manchester United. We have games we know we can win, at some stage it will be down to us. We will fight," Wenger said.

"We are on a 16-game run unbeaten but recently we didn't get enough points with too many draws. That is what we want to turn by the end of the season."

Sagna is less confident than Wenger of closing the gap on United.

While Arsenal's style of play has drawn plaudits, Sagna believes they lack the steel to close out matches.

Against Spurs even at 3-1 up they kept attacking, which left them exposed at the back and allowed their bitter rivals back into the match.

And Sagna admits they need to play more conservatively. "We are drawing too many games to be champions. Especially at home, we have dropped many points," he said.

"From now, we need to look forward and we must not drop any more points.

"We have to play United on May 1 and we have to win. They will have some hard games coming, it is not easy for them, and it is down to us if we want to win something.

"We know we have to win our last games. We need to think about our team. We do not need to focus on other teams.

"We have to play each other and it will be a good game. We need to focus and win."

Abou Diaby is a doubt for the Bolton game after coming off early in the second half against Spurs with a hamstring, but long-term injuries aside, Wenger has an otherwise clean bill of health.

Meanwhile, Bolton will also be seeking redemption following their 5-0 loss to Stoke in the FA Cup semi-final last week.

Bolton manager Owen Coyle has urged his men to forget about their capitulation at Wembley and instead focus on maintaining their top-ten place in the Premier League.

Coyle is set to make changes to the side that lost to Stoke last Sunday, with on-loan Chelsea striker Dean Sturridge likely to lead the line after being cup-tied for the semi-final.

Matt Taylor and Mark Davies should fill the spaces in central midfield, after the pair contributed to an improved showing after coming on at Wembley.

Taylor revealed Coyle held a team meeting this week and said: "The gaffer had a little chat with us before we went out for training."

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