Barclays Premier League
, Apr 21, 2012
Ground: Emirates Stadium , Kickoff: 12:45 , Att 60,111
Wenger not content with third Arsene Wenger maintains Arsenal cannot be content with just third place in the Barclays Premier League, but urged his squad to finish a testing campaign on a high.
The Gunners host Chelsea on Saturday aiming to recover quickly from a lacklustre 2-1 home defeat by Wigan on Monday night to keep themselves on track for automatic qualification.
Arsenal hold a five-point lead over rivals Tottenham and Newcastle heading into this weekend's fixtures, while they are seven in front of the Blues, but having played a match more.
Just to be in this position is something of an achievement within itself, considering Arsenal's appalling start to the domestic campaign which saw them lose four of their first seven games and slip down as low as 17th.
However, the fact the Gunners are not now fighting for the championship itself will continue to rest uneasy with the Frenchman, whose side last lifted a trophy in 2005.
Wenger said: "We want more, but where we are at the moment we will be happy with third place because there are great teams who would be very happy if they got there.
"You always want more, but you see that the competition in England is difficult - Chelsea are now in the Champions League [semi-final] against Barcelona, but they are sixth at the moment, that means it is not easy.
"We want to win our next game and that is the only way we can secure our [Champions League] qualification.
"We have done remarkably well in the last two months and we want to take advantage of that run we have created and show that tomorrow." Arsenal have won nine of their last 11 Premier League games to force themselves back into the top four.
Wenger feels ending the campaign with a similar run of form can only boost confidence for the challenges ahead in 2012/2013.
"We feel that as a team we have improved during the season and it is important now to finish in a strong way. That gives us confidence to do well at the start of next season," he said.
"We played the first seven games and lost four. It is difficult after to win the championship." Already without Jack Wilshere, Arsenal have seen their midfield options depleted further by the ankle injury to Mikel Arteta against Wigan.
On-loan Yossi Benayoun will not be able to face his parent club tomorrow, but Abou Diaby and Francis Coquelin return from injury.
Wenger said: "It is not ideal but we cannot complain, we have to overcome that.
"You always expect in April that not everybody will be on board and our game is based on collective play.
"That is why we have to focus on our team play and not think about who is here or not here." Roberto Di Matteo today insisted there was no need to "have a word" with Didier Drogba about his antics in Chelsea's Champions League win over Barcelona.
Caretaker Blues boss Di Matteo revealed Drogba picked up a genuine injury in Wednesday night's semi-final first leg that has left him in a race against time to be fit for Tuesday's return match.
Drogba was hailed and castigated in almost equal measure after his Jekyll-and-Hyde performance in midweek that saw him score the winner but also roll around theatrically several times after being challenged.
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson revealed on Thursday he had "had a word" with Ashley Young about the winger's own tendency to go down easily, but suggested what went on at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday was much worse.
Asked if he would have a similar conversation with Drogba, Di Matteo said: "No, because I don't see any reason why I should have a conversation like that.
"Our players, I think, are fair players. Everybody has his own style but I think we are a fair team." Drogba was accused of trying to run down the clock on Wednesday and former referee Graham Poll has warned the officials on Tuesday night may have that in mind.
Di Matteo said: "He was marked most of time by two men and I think got a lot of physical battering as well on the night.
"We have to be objective about our opinions as well." Confirming Drogba suffered a knee injury on Wednesday and would miss the trip to Arsenal - a match he probably would have been rested for anyway - Di Matteo admitted he did not know whether the 34-year-old would be back for the trip to the Nou Camp.
"We have to assess him tomorrow and Sunday and how he recovers," he said.
Arsenal vs Chelsea
Last modified 15:02 21/04/12
Gunners and Blues fail to fire Chelsea produced another solid defensive display to frustrate Arsenal as their Barclays Premier League clash ended goalless at Emirates Stadium.
Roberto Di Matteo made sweeping changes to the side which had battled to a 1-0 home win over Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Wednesday night.
However, the gameplan remained very much the same, with the Gunners - who twice hit the woodwork in the first half - denied time and space as they failed to bounce back from the disappointment of Monday night's shock defeat here by Wigan.
Chelsea can head to Spain knowing more of the same will be good enough to progress against the odds, while Arsenal, who lost winger Theo Walcott to a potentially season-ending hamstring injury, still have some work to do themselves if they are to secure third place ahead of Tottenham and Newcastle.
Chelsea, with recalled Fernando Torres leading the line, felt they had an early penalty shout when Salomon Kalou got ahead of Bacary Sagna down the left.
However, despite the players coming together before the Chelsea forward, making his 250th appearance, went down, referee Mike Dean waved play on.
In the 13th minute, Michael Essien bundled over Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to concede a free-kick 20 yards out on the left of centre.
Walcott whipped the ball over to the far post, where Robin van Persie arrived late to stab the ball against the outside of the woodwork.
Arsenal - whose 5-3 win at Stamford Bridge in October was the beginning of the end for former Blues boss Andre Villas-Boas - continued to press Chelsea back, but lacked a telling pass in the final third.
The visitors, meanwhile, looked dangerous on the swift counter attack, with Florent Malouda making headway down the left and his cross into the six-yard box was hacked clear by Laurent Koscielny.
The tempo of the match dropped significantly, with Arsenal players showing a distinct lack of movement on and off the ball as the visitors easily turned over possession.
Just like Barcelona had in midweek, Arsenal hit the woodwork again five minutes before the break.
This time, Van Persie was the architect, his floated free-kick into the Chelsea box picking out Koscielny, whose header looped over Petr Cech, but came back off the crossbar.
Arsenal maintained the pressure, with Cech standing up well at the near post to deflect Van Persie's shot clear after another ball swept through the Chelsea box from the right by Alex Song.
Di Matteo switched Torres out to the flank for the second half, with Daniel Sturridge down the middle.
Arsenal remained too casual with their choice of final pass when in promising positions, while the visitors always looked dangerous on the break.
Thomas Vermaelen made a fine saving tackle to deny Sturridge on the edge of the area.
As the hour mark approached, Walcott pulled up with what appeared to be a hamstring problem.
The England winger, though, was able to continue, only to then break down as he tried to get away down the right and was replaced by Gervinho.
Arsenal upped the tempo again, but Van Persie cracked a 25-yard free-kick high into the Clock End.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger made another change on 63 minutes, as the hard-working Tomas Rosicky was replaced by Abou Diaby, back from a series of injury problems.
Chelsea then replaced midfielder Oriol Romeu with John Obi Mikel.
Arsenal's final substitution came with 21 minutes left as Brazil wing-back Andre Santos replaced Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Juan Mata - who was on Wenger's radar before his move to Stamford Bridge from Valencia - came on for Kalou as the match showed little signs of sparking into life as the last 15 minutes approached before former Gunner Ashley Cole replaced Ryan Bertrand to the expected warm reception from the home fans.
Van Persie went down in a heap under pressure from John Terry, but the referee waved away the half-hearted penalty appeals.
The Dutchman then blazed wide after Terry slipped to let him into the right side of the Chelsea box.
Arsenal had enough of the ball in the closing stages, but as for the majority of the match, failed to make the most of it.
|Player rating out of ten||Player name||Substitution||Did they score?||Player's disciplinary record||Rating|
|14||Theo Walcott(sub 59)|
|7||Tomas Rosicky(sub 63)|
|15||Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain(sub 68)|
|10||Robin van Persie|
|2||Vassiriki Diaby(sub 63)|
|11||Clarindo Andre Santos(sub 68)|
|27||Yao Gervinho(sub 59)|
|Player rating out of ten||Player name||Did they score?||Player's disciplinary record||Substitution||Rating|
|34||Ryan Bertrand(sub 76)|
|6||Oriol Romeu(sub 65)|
|21||Salomon Kalou(sub 73)|
|3||Ashley Cole(sub 76)|
|10||Juan Mata(sub 73)|