Newcastle v Arsenal
Today: St James Park, 3pm
TV: Live on Setanta Sports
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger wants his team to focus on maintaining their own performances levels over the final nine Premier League games rather than worry about whether leaders Chelsea might slip up again.
Following last weekend’s Premier League results, which saw Manchester City lose and leaders Chelsea held to a draw at Stamford Bridge by Southampton, Blues boss Jose Mourinho declared the Gunners now back in the title race, albeit still seven points behind and having played a match more.
Arsenal will host Chelsea at the end of April, but Wenger maintains his men must first continue to deliver consistent results and not concern themselves with the form of other sides.
“At the moment we are too far away from Chelsea, but we have an opportunity every week to get closer and for that we need positive results from us, and negative results from Chelsea. The only thing we can master is positive results from us,” said Wenger, who takes his team to Newcastle on today.
“I believe Chelsea still has a very good cushion and very good security.”
Wenger believes a line must be drawn over confronting referees — and that includes for himself.
At the end of last year, the FA wrote to clubs to remind them of their responsibilities, with some 16 having been charged by the governing body already this season for failing to control their players.
“You want players to be ready to fight for each other. But how far has that to go in the behaviour? You have to draw a line somewhere, you cannot go after every decision.”
While Wenger’s current Arsenal side are not high on the offenders list, that was not always the case when the French coach first arrived at Highbury in the late 1990s, and the likes of Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit, Martin Keown, Ian Wright and Tony Adams provided the backbone of the squad.
“We have less physical players and more technical players than before, that is true,” said Wenger.
“We had the old guard from England who were more educated in the English style and ready for a fight every time.
“The game has changed. It was more physical, more direct and more open to challenges. Yes, the supporters like it, I like it as well, but at some stage you have to stop.”
Earlier this week Wenger voiced the opinion that interim Newcastle boss John Carver has “the qualities to do the job”.
Carver said: “That’s nice, because people in the game understand what is going on. He (Wenger) understands that if he was here in these circumstances, he would have a problem dealing with it.”
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