Football: Players have to push themselves to deliver, says Arsenal manager Wenger

LONDON (AFP) - Arsene Wenger believes his players' mental strength will determine whether Arsenal can finish the season on a high.

They will attempt to tighten their grip on third place in the Premier League when West Ham visit the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

That comes five days after the Gunners recorded a memorable FA Cup victory at Manchester United to set up a Wembley semi-final against Reading or Bradford.

Next week, they will attempt to overturn a 3-1 deficit at Monaco in the Champions League last-16, second-leg tie.

If they can retain the Cup and finish in the top four, they will have built on their efforts of last season when the FA Cup final triumph over Hull marked an end to a nine-year trophy drought.

Wenger accepts the pressure on his team is greater now.

"We can push them over the line with the 1 per cent we can give but 99 per cent is them having the responsibility to make their own life.

"You have to stand up to be strong enough, to fight, to show that you have the courage and that you're not inhibited because you're under pressure, and that's the difficulty of the modern player.

"That has increased and the resistance to stress from the young players is immense today because everything is analysed. Every pass you make, every first touch, how far you run, how much you fight, everything.

"Twenty years ago, you could lose a game and people would say, 'Next time Arsenal will play better'. Today, you lose a game and it is always a crisis."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.