Wednesday 07 March 2012
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has called on his side to use the character showed in Tuesday's impressive 3-0 victory over AC Milan to seal a place in the top four of the Barclays Premier League.
The Gunners, who were trailing 4-0 after the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie, almost pulled off a stunning comeback in the second leg against Milan at the Emirates Stadium.
"Hopefully from here we can finish the season strongly because there is no room for disappointment"
- Arsene Wenger
First-half goals from Laurent Koscielny, Tomas Rosicky and Robin van Persie gave Arsenal hope but AC Milan hung on to book their place in the quarter-finals.
Despite the 4-3 aggregate defeat, Wenger believes the second-leg performance against Milan, together with the recent League victories over Tottenham and Liverpool, has given his side real momentum ahead of the season run-in.
"We are on a good run in the league and we know it will be difficult [to lift the players] because it is a big disappointment," said Wenger, whose side are currently in fourth, four points behind third-placed Tottenham.
"But the team has grown well together, and hopefully from here we can finish the season strongly because there is no room for disappointment at the moment in the league.
"Every point is a battle until the end of the season and that is what is in front of us.
"But our target is possible because we are four points behind Tottenham, though we have to go step by step because we have another big game on Monday night against Newcastle and we take it game by game.
"We need to win our games and look at the results of teams like Tottenham to catch them up, but for us, it is clear - we have to win our games."
Arsenal were written off after that 4-0 defeat at the San Siro on February 15th and Wenger was delighted with how his side responded in the second leg, saying the players put in a "faultless performance".
"We are disappointed because we touched qualification," he added. "We had the chances and we didn't do it, but we were very close.
"I have to give credit to Tomas Rosicky"
- Arsene Wenger
"It is a night when players can be proud to play for this club because they put every effort in. If you win 3-0 at home you can only say well done to the players."
And Wenger also singled out midfielders Rosicky and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for special praise after the match.
"For a guy who has never played at the top level in central midfield, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain started in a Champions League game and he did well," said Wenger.
"He tired a bit in the second half after his injury, and he got less of the ball than he did in the first half. When he got the ball, you always think something could happen. You could see he has suffered physically, but also that he has the class to be in there.
"I have to give credit to Tomas Rosicky. He was again outstanding here. In all of these games, he was one of the most influential players, and he does not always get the credit he deserves."