Wenger wants Arsenal to make quick return to the top of Premier League

Gunners boss expects side to put pressure on rivals with victory against Crystal Palace

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 February, 2014, 8:47pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 February, 2014, 11:09pm


Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger wants his side to apply pressure on their Premier League title rivals by reclaiming top spot with victory over Crystal Palace on Sunday.

The Gunners lost their place at the summit to Manchester City following their midweek 2-2 draw at Southampton.

While Arsenal dropped points at St Mary's, City were rampant in a 5-1 mauling of Tottenham Hotspur one day later.

"That's our target," Wenger said. "Can you win the next game if you give absolutely everything? Yes, so let's do it.It is a great opportunity for us to win our game and respond to our draw at Southampton.

That's our target. Can you win the next game if you give absolutely everything? Yes, so let's do it. It is a great opportunity for us to win our game and respond to our draw at Southampton
Arsene Wenger

"At the moment [City] are on fire. But I believe we have just to focus on our own run because if you look at the schedule, if we are consistent we have a good chance to do it.

"You cannot speculate on any weakness in Man City in the coming months. So let's focus on us, and our strengths, in the coming months.

"It is the way we can do it. If we keep the consistency and manage to win the big games - one of them will be Man City at home [on March 29].

"Of course that will be very important. Of course they had an impressive win, and a great quality game as well at Tottenham.

"But if you analyse it well, this game could have turned as well. All the turning points went in their favour. If they had not gone ahead, you are not sure they would have won the game."

Arsenal have suffered a major injury blow, with Aaron Ramsey ruled out for up to six weeks with a recurrence of a thigh problem.

"He finished training normally, came in and had pain. We checked in on the scan and it was a recurrence of his muscle problem," Wenger said.

"Why did it happen? Have we not been cautious enough? We have respected the procedures. Maybe we should have been a bit more cautious, but it was not obvious," he said.

Wenger reacted to Ramsey's injury by bringing in Sweden international midfielder Kim Kallstrom from Spartak Moscow on a short-term loan deal.

Meanwhile, Brendan Rodgers believes Liverpool's trip to West Bromwich Albion on Sunday is a significant landmark in the club's development since he took over at Anfield.

Rodgers' side were beaten 3-0 at the Hawthorns on the opening day of last season in the Liverpool manager's first league match in charge.

Seven of the 18-man squad that day are no longer at the club.

Rodgers accepts that there is still plenty more progress to make but has been pleased with the changes he has implemented since August 2012.

"We've grown. If I look back at my time here over the last 18 months, I look back at the first game we played against West Brom," Rodgers said.

"It's ironic that we play them this weekend. Where we were then, we had some talented players but we were very much an individual group.

"Over the course of 18 months, we've implemented a method to our play. We have become a team.

"We're understanding the game much better in terms of how we want to work and how we want to play.

"The important trait in any successful team is character, and we have got that in bucketloads. It's something that makes me very happy, but we've still got a way to go."

Liverpool are firm favourites to take the three points at the Hawthorns following their 4-0 Merseyside derby win over Everton midweek.

But Rodgers maintains there is no prospect of taking Pepe Mel's side lightly.

"People probably expected Chelsea to win at home against West Ham, but they went there and put on a great defensive performance and got a draw," he said.

"I think it will be like that throughout the remaining games. My focus is only on us and respecting every opponent that we play. West Brom, with a new manager, will be very keen to get a win, so we know it will be a very difficult match for us."