x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Arsene Wenger calls for winning mentality

Arsenal could be nine points behind Manchester United by the time they face Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium on Sunday. However, their manager is convinced five wins in their remaining fixtures will be enough for a first title since 2004.

Arsene Wenger, second from left, has been animated on the touchline in recent times.
Arsene Wenger, second from left, has been animated on the touchline in recent times.

Arsene Wenger insists Arsenal can still win the Premier League title as long as his players find a way to control their nerves.

Wenger's side have fallen six points behind Premier League leaders Manchester United with only five matches to go after squandering leads against Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in the past week.

Arsenal's failure to close out matches so often this season has led many pundits to claim Wenger's players lack the mental strength to be champions.

The Frenchman concedes that the constant criticism has made it particularly hard for his defenders to keep their composure and he is working hard to restore their belief.

"It is a vicious circle problem and you can only deal with that calmly and by dominating your nerves," Wenger said yesterday. "Our defenders are under pressure because they are criticised for not holding on for results; that makes the problem a little bit worse.

"I feel what is important is to continue to play, whatever the score is. I feel we need to keep our nerves more and communicate better.

"We try to get the players to focus on continuing to play in a calm way, but we must as well give some credit to the opponents. We are on a 16-game unbeaten run in the Premier League, so at least we don't have a losing mentality. It's down to us to transform the draws into a winning habit."

Arsenal could be nine points behind United by the time they face Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium tomorrow. However, Wenger is convinced five wins in their remaining fixtures - which includes a showdown with United at Emirates Stadium - will be enough for a first title since 2004.

"I am convinced that if we win our five games we will win the championship," Wenger said.

"But the target is to win the next one and let's focus, give absolutely everything to do it.

"We have played 16 games without losing. What I feel is most important for us is to keep the belief and to win. This championship will go to the most solid team, mentally, not necessarily to anybody else.

"The mental part of the belief is the most important thing to have in the last five games, so let's have it already in the next game."

Wenger has been an animated and at times anguished figure on the touchline in recent weeks.

He had a heated exchange with the Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish at the final whistle last weekend and went on to the pitch to confront officials over the amount of added time, but insists he cannot help but get involved.

"I care about the game and I'm motivated to win the game and agitated, yes."