Wenger has faith in title bid

Wenger accepts it is a “vicious circle” when his side face

continual questions about their mental strength, but the Gunners

slipped to third in the table after they failed to hold onto a 3-1

lead at Tottenham in midweek. It was a frustrating fifth draw from

the last eight games, although it extended Arsenal’s unbeaten run

to 16. Wenger has again been forced to defend the make-up of his

young team, which has a habit of not closing out winning positions,

including after being 1-0 up with a stoppage-time penalty against

Liverpool last weekend. And he believes the constant scrutiny from

media and fans can filter through to the players, thus having a

double negative impact. “It is a vicious circle problem and you can

only deal with that with calmly and by dominating your nerves,”

said Wenger. “Our defenders are under pressure because they are

criticised for not holding on for results, that makes the problem a

little bit worse. “I feel what is important is to continue to play

whatever the score is. I feel we need to keep our nerves more and

communicate better. “We try to get the players to focus on

continuing to play in a calm way, but we must as well give some

credit to the opponents. “We are on a 16-game unbeaten run in the

Premier League, so at least we don’t have a losing mentality. It’s

down to us to transform the draws into a winning habit.” Arsenal

head to Bolton on Sunday, by which time they could have fallen

further behind Manchester United, whom they currently trail by six

points, and Chelsea, in second place on goal difference, who play

both on Saturday. However, Wenger is convinced five wins in their

remaining fixtures – which includes a showdown with United at the

Emirates on May 1 – will be enough for a first title since the

Invincibles season of 2003/2004. “I am convinced that if we win our

five games we will win the championship,” Wenger said. “But the

target is to win the next one and let’s focus, give absolutely

everything to do it. We have played 16 games without losing. What I

feel is most important for us is to keep the belief and to win.

“This championship will go to the most solid team, mentally, not

necessarily to anybody else. “The mental part of the belief is the

most important thing to have in the last five games, so let’s have

it already in the next game.” Wenger has been an animated figure on

the touchline in recent weeks, sharing the frustrations of

supporters as more crucial points slipped away. He had a heated

exchange with Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish at the final whistle

last weekend and went onto the pitch to confront officials over the

amount of added time, but insists he cannot help but feel involved.

Wenger said: “I cannot sit there and be placid like I am on dope.

“I care about the game and I’m motivated to win the game and

agitated, yes, but it is one thing to be agitated and in control of

your decisions and be lucid, or be completely out of control. “I am

not out of control. I am agitated because I want my team to win the

game. Of course I am and I am ready to fight, believe me.” Arsenal,

currently the subject of a takeover from American entrepreneur Stan

Kroenke, are said to have some £40million waiting for Wenger

to spend should he want. However, he feels his squad does not need

major surgery. “The team is 23-years-old, why should we expect to

have a huge turnover at the end of the season?” Wenger said. “Is it

[£40million] available? Frankly I don’t know. We have not

completely checked out our financial position. “The only thing I

can say is that the club is in a healthy financial situation and if

needed we can make a big transfer.”