Arsenal look to rekindle title push at Bournemouth


Arsene Wenger believes up to six clubs are still involved in the Premier League title race and admits his Arsenal side must end their frustrating recent run if they are to revive their challenge.

Wenger’s side travel to face Bournemouth on Sunday looking for a first league win in five games.

The midweek scoreless home draw with Southampton meant the Gunners have taken just three points for the last four games to leave them in fourth place, five points adrift of leaders Leicester City.

And alarmingly for the manager, the north London club have failed to score in their last three league games.

With the title race the most open it has been in years, Wenger acknowledges his side cannot afford to lose more ground.

The Arsenal manager said: “We are in a position where we have to come back first – to win games – which we haven’t been doing recently. We have to look at the facts as they are. We haven’t won in four games.

“We want to get back to winning and then look at the results of the others. Look at yourself and get back to what you want to do, and to do that you have to win your next game.

“You look at the table and you can say as many as five or six (can win it). It makes it interesting – even if we would love it to be a bit less interesting but it is the case and we have to deal with that.

“Every season is special and we have gone through a bad patch but to fight for the Premier League, you have to be capable of dealing with that.”

Wenger admits his side has appeared nervous at times, but believes there were promising signs against Southampton and is convinced the current goal-drought will soon come to an end.

He added: “Against Southampton, we created the chances and couldn’t finish them off. I believe overall, we should not be alarmed, because the quality of our performance was there in every single game.

“We should take a lot of encouragement from that, even if sometimes in the recent games, we didn’t get the result we wanted.

“We have to prepare without being obsessed with (scoring) – finishing is cyclic and if we create the same amount of chances we will score.”

– Confidence high –

Arsenal will face a Bournemouth side high on confidence after the midweek win at Crystal Palace that was capped by a third goal in four games for January recruit Benik Afobe.

Afobe was connected with Arsenal from the age of six before being allowed to leave for Wolverhampton Wanderers 13 months ago and Wenger insists he is pleased to see the 22-year-old doing so well.

The manager said: “You educate people to influence their lives and give them success, that is what we do. When they do not manage to play for us, if they do it somewhere else we are of course very happy for them.

“Benik has done extremely well, even beyond the expectations of many people and that’s great, that’s down to him and congratulations to him.”

The victory over Palace took Eddie Howe’s side to 28 points, seven points clear of the bottom three, but the Bournemouth manager warned against setting a survival target of 40 points.

Howe said: “We’re conscious of people setting 40 points but we haven’t set any targets. We’re working towards goals, but it’s very dangerous to set 40 points as it could be more this year.