London: Arsene Wenger insists he has not given up on Arsenal’s Premier League title challenge, but admits there are lessons to be learnt from Leicester’s dominance at the top.
Wenger’s third-placed side, who lie 11 points adrift of the leaders, 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 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, Wenger is forced to contemplate another failed bid to deliver the title to the Emirates Stadium for the first time since 2004, the manager 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. It’s not just only down to the amount of money you spend,” Wenger said.
“It’s down to the quality of players you bring in and it’s not 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.”
Wenger acknowledges Arsenal must now win all their remaining matches to have any chance of a title triumph.
“We know we need a near-perfect run and we know we don’t look only in front of us, we look behind us as well. We are chased by a group of teams, who can make it very difficult for us, so we have just to focus on our performance and hope we finish in a very strong way. As long as it's mathematically possible, there’s a strong possibility we can catch Leicester. You look at the difficulty of the Premier League and they have been very consistent but every game is very, very tight. That can go the other way.”
Meanwhile, West Ham boss Slaven Bilic is aiming for the top four. “We are both fighting for a place in Europe. They admitted they must win all their remaining games, so it's a big game with a lot at stake,” Bilic said.
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