Wenger praise for‘miracle man’ Mick

ARSENE WENGER has warned Arsenal to expect a footballing test when miracle-worker Mick McCarthy brings his battling Wolves side to Emirates Stadium today.

The Gunners had an extra 24 hours to prepare for the game following the decision to put the fixture back from St Stephen’s Day because of a strike by some staff on the London Underground.

While Arsenal have their sights set firmly on the top four after bouncing back from the 1-0 defeat at Manchester City with an away win at Aston Villa, Wolves are scrapping for every point to stay clear of being dragged into a relegation battle.

Wenger has the utmost respect for the job McCarthy is overseeing at the Black Country club, under what have been testing circumstances following criticism from some sections of the Molineux faithful this season.

“Mick McCarthy is doing miracles at Wolves,” Wenger said.

“He is always ready for a fight, never gives up, keeps his steadiness and mental strength, never shows any strain.

“It is great what he does for his club. I believe they play extremely good football as well.”

Wenger had been impressed by McCarthy’s determination.

“It demands special strength from the manager to fight until the last day with the uncertainty sometimes whether you will stay up,” the Arsenal boss said.

“A manager needs to be cool-blooded, strong, resilient and Mick McCarthy has all of these qualities.”

Arsenal have won eight of their last 10 league games to turn the season around and close back to within striking distance of the top four.

The Gunners produced another impressive display to secure all three points at Villa Park last Wednesday night, with Yossi Benayoun coming off the bench to head a late winner.

The Israeli midfielder, on loan from Chelsea, has yet to start in the Premier League this season, but Wenger believes a collective team ethic runs deep within the current group.

“[The Aston Villa result] showed the importance of the squad, but also the quality of the spirit,” Wenger said.

“That makes a difference if you have players who come on that have a real desire to help the team.

“You always have a chance because teams have to fight so hard against us that in the last 20 minutes fresh players can have a big impact.”

Arsenal head towards 2012 with their defence stretched because of injury, which could see Wenger enter the loan market when the transfer window opens again on January 1.

He is also set to make a decision on whether to bring former captain Thierry Henry back on a short-term deal ahead of the new Major League Soccer season.

Wenger feels having to field four centre-backs across the rearguard has left his team looking for other options when starting attacks.

“We are a bit more cautious going forward because a centre-back is not a full-back,” the Arsenal manager said.

“Maybe we are a little bit more resilient defensively and a bit stronger in the air, but overall it doesn’t change a lot and we still try to play out from the back with our passing game.”

For his part, Ronald Zubar says Wolves must repeat the determination evident in salvaging a point against Norwich in their battle for Premier League survival.

Wolves twice came from behind in midweek to draw 2-2 with the Canaries at Molineux.

Right-back Zubar, who has just returned to the side after a lengthy injury lay-off, scored the second goal to cement the comeback just when Wolves were facing a second home setback in succession.

Now they face a visit to a revitalised Arsenal who are back in the hunt for a Champions League spot.

Zubar said: “There won’t be any pressure on us against Arsenal and we just have to see what we can do.

“There’s no reason why we can’t play well there and see if we can pick anything up.

“The last 10 minutes against Norwich showed the determination of the team and we’re going to need all that in the games to come.”

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