Wenger desperate for glory

The Gunners headed to Braga for tomorrow’s Champions League Group H

clash still smarting from blowing the chance to go top of the

Premier League after Tottenham fought back from 2-0 down to claim

victory at Emirates Stadium on Saturday. Wenger was fuming at the

manner of his team’s capitulation against their fierce rivals,

throwing a water bottle to the floor in the dugout while also

reading his players the riot act after the final whistle. And while

he may have since found some positives in analysing the defeat

after emotions had calmed, Wenger insists his desire for the latest

generation of Arsenal stars to deliver a first trophy since 2004

burns as fierce as ever. “I want this team to win so much that I am

giving every drop of my blood to make sure this team wins,” Wenger

said. “I want them to be successful because they deserve it, so of

course it hurts when you get so close as we did on Saturday and you

do not manage to do it. “I just feel we have had two or three

opportunities to be top of the league and we did not take it for

different reasons. “But what is encouraging from Saturday is that

we turned up with a performance, and also we paid a bit for players

being away midweek and we had problems to maintain the focus,

concentration and intensity of our game tactically. “Of course we

have huge disappointment in the way we lost the game. It was not

rational how we lost a game of that magnitude leading 2-0. “The way

we conceded the goals, that leaves us with many regrets. “It is

certainly down to something. Sometimes we are easing up in games

because maybe subconsciously we feel we need to go through the

motions and sometimes there is a more subtle subconscious feeling

that we have not won yet and we get a bit nervous when we have to

become really concrete. “But on the other hand, the way the game

was run should not make us doubt ourselves because, after the game,

it should strengthen our feeling that we have a very important part

to play in this league.” The defeat to Spurs was partially offset

by Chelsea’s loss at Birmingham later in the day. Arsenal dropped

to third in the table after Manchester United beat Wigan, but

remain just two points behind the leaders. “It is a rollercoaster

season,” Wenger added. “Just when you think that a team is solid

and will go on a run, suddenly they lose a game nobody expected

them to lose. “It is difficult emotionally and nervously for every

single manager, but on the other hand, for the people watching it

makes it even more interesting. “At this stage of the season, I

have never seen a league as compact. “Nobody manages to be really

consistent, apart from Manchester United, they are consistent

without too many wins, they have many draws and have not lost yet.”

Arsenal travelled to Braga – via Spain because of Portugal’s

general strike this week – without defender Gael Clichy, who has a

minor back problem, while both Andrey Arshavin and Robin van Persie

were also left in London to recover fitness. England international

Kieran Gibbs is set to stand in at left-back while Denmark striker

Nicklas Bendtner is also in contention. Braga were swept aside 6-0

in north London in September, but could go level with the Gunners –

currently top of the group on goal difference from Shakhtar Donetsk

– with victory in the AXA Stadium. After Arsenal let a lead slip in

their last away European tie in Ukraine a fortnight ago, Wenger

will not accept any complacency tomorrow against the team which

knocked both Celtic and Sevilla out of the qualifiers. “A game away

from home in the Champions League is a different game than at

home,” he said. “Braga has a good side that in the first 20 minutes

of the home game impressed me. “With what happened to us against

Spurs everyone will be focused and want to perform at our best. We

know we have an opportunity to qualify and people expect us also to

bounce back.”