Wenger relishing title run-in

Wenger relishing title run-in

Published Feb. 27, 2010 4:10 a.m. ET

Arsene Wenger feels the pressure is slightly off Arsenal now they have come through the toughest run of fixtures he has ever had in England.

The Gunners have in the past month played all three fellow members of the so-called 'Big Four' as well as Aston Villa, picking up a total of four points from that quartet of games.

Wenger admits such a schedule took its toll on his young squad but is delighted to see them still on the coat-tails of Chelsea and Manchester United, the league's front two, as the championship enters the business end of the season.

And the Frenchman, who has guided the Gunners to wins over Liverpool and Sunderland in their past two league matches, reckons his men have turned the corner as they eye a first title since 2004.

"It has been very difficult for us," said Wenger, whose side play mid-table Stoke ahead of what, on paper at least, appears a comfortable run-in.

"It's the first time since I've been in the game that we have played Aston Villa, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool in four games (in succession), and I think that was a little bit unfair.

"Because in every big game, you have so much mental involvement that if you lose it is so difficult to recover, and you are under immense pressure in the next one to do well.

"I believe we were very low after the Chelsea defeat (2-0 away, on February 7) but we managed to beat Liverpool and that was a turning point in our season."

Stoke will nonetheless provide a stiff test for Arsenal, who have lost on both of their visits to the Britannia Stadium over the past two seasons.

With the Potters' physicality and directness having caused problems for the Gunners in the past, Wenger insists victory tonight is anything but a gimme.

"If you want to stay in touch with the top teams, every game is a big game from now on," he added.

"It is up to us to turn up and be efficient on the day."