We will not give up on the EPL, says Wenger

LONDON • Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insisted yesterday that his side are still in the Premier League title race and that their trophy hopes do not lie only with the FA Cup.

The Gunners are eight points behind league leaders Leicester City after a battling 2-2 draw at rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, and have won just three of their last 12 games.

Wenger's men next take on Hull in an FA Cup fifth-round replay today, after the holders were held to a goal-less draw in the initial match at the Emirates.

They also look set to exit the Champions League thanks to a 2-0 home defeat by Barcelona in the last-16, first-leg tie.

The record 12-time winners will be seeking solace from the FA Cup once more, as they look to win it three times in a row.

Wenger, though, is adamant that the league title race is far from over.

"You don't think like that," he said when asked whether the FA Cup is Arsenal's most realistic chance of silverware.

"The Premier League is far from being over. Just to remind you, we have beaten Leicester twice so we have done our job against them.

"People have to look at other teams more, not just us on that front. We will not give up the Premier League."

The FA Cup has been a long-term friend to the Frenchman, who has won it six times since arriving at Highbury.

The 66-year-old is also now the longest-serving coach in European football, after Ronnie McFall ended his 29-year stint in charge of Northern Irish club Portadown over the weekend.

Despite facing criticism from several pundits, including his ex-players Paul Merson and Thierry Henry, Wenger says he is used to negative comments.

"I have always the same pressure which is the pressure I apply to myself," he said.

"You have more people talking than 20 years ago and more opinions. That doesn't change the pressure. The real pressure comes from your desire to win the next game and that is the only one that matters really."

The winners of the fifth-round tie will play at home against Watford on Sunday, so Wenger is likely to make some changes.

"I will have to (make changes). I have to rotate a little bit and keep the right balance in the team," he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

HULL V ARSENAL

Singtel TV Ch109, tomorrow, 2.50am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 08, 2016, with the headline 'We will not give up on the EPL, says Wenger'. Print Edition | Subscribe