Wenger knows smart buys key to Foxes' rise

LONDON • Arsene Wenger insists that he has not given up on Arsenal's Premier League title challenge but admits there are lessons to be learnt from Leicester City's dominance at the top of the table.

His third-placed side, who lie 11 points adrift of the leaders with a game in hand, head to West Ham today where they will seek the third successive victory they need to keep their slender hopes of becoming champions alive.

Consecutive wins against Everton and Watford have raised hopes that they could yet end a frustrating season on a high but Wenger is realistic enough to know Arsenal's main priority is to ensure they do not get dragged back towards those clubs - including West Ham - currently on the fringe of the top four.

And if, as expected, the Frenchman is forced to contemplate another failed bid to deliver the title to the Emirates Stadium for the first time since 2004, he will point to Leicester's recruitment strategy as the key to the leaders' unexpected success.

"What we learn from Leicester City is what I knew for a long time, which is that it's not just only down to the amount of money you spend," he said. "It's down to the quality of players you bring in and sometimes the opportunities are not always necessarily linked with the amount of money.

"If you look well, they finished very strongly last season and on top of that they brought some players in who have given them something more, like N'Golo Kante. He had a huge impact."

Aaron Ramsey could return to the squad but Wenger is unlikely to change the starting line-up that has delivered successive wins.

West Ham won at Arsenal on the opening day of the season, a result that raised eyebrows at the time.

The Hammers' form since then, however, has demonstrated that performance was no one-off. And, while last weekend's home draw with Crystal Palace dented their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League, manager Slaven Bilic and his players have not given up on reaching the top four.

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WEST HAM V ARSENAL
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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 09, 2016, with the headline 'Wenger knows smart buys key to Foxes' rise'. Print Edition | Subscribe