LIVERPOOL, United Kingdom, March 22- Arsene Wenger warned his resurgent Arsenal players that they cannot afford to relax after moving into the Premier League’s top three for the first time this season.
The Gunners, 12 points behind Tottenham on February 1, climbed above their north London rivals after a hard-earned 1-0 win over Everton at Goodison Park on Wednesday.
Belgium defender Thomas Vermaelen’s fifth top-flight goal of the campaign earned Wenger’s side a sixth straight league win to move one point above Spurs with nine games remaining.
With Arsenal seventh in the table as recently as seven weeks ago, it continued a remarkable transformation by the Gunners.
But Wenger insists the hard work is only just starting if Arsenal want to stay in the top three for the rest of the campaign.
“We have learned a lot in the last months,” Wenger said. “But it’s important we stay focused and fight for each other if we want to stay where we are.
“Since October we have had only one bad spell because we had no full-backs. But the attitude of the team was always good and I felt we could always bounce back.
“We needed to be strong because we were under a lot of pressure and we need that until the end of the season. Where we come from, we know what suffering means.
“In some press conferences earlier in the season I had to answer questions like ‘are you praying you don’t go down?’.
“When you have gone through that you are cured for the rest of the season,. But we know we still have a difficult battle in front of us.
“Things change quickly in this league. That’s why it is vital to keep our focused.”
On his team’s resilient performance against Everton, Wenger added: “We had a brilliant start and slowly Everton came back into the game.
“For most of the second-half we hung on until the last 15 minutes when we began to create chances. We were resilient and focused with a desire to defend.
“We refused to play a little bit because we just wanted to stay ahead.
“You have seen a side of us that usually people do not know. I felt it was the only way to get a result against Everton. Overall we never panicked and that’s good.”
Everton have now failed to win their last three games, but Toffees boss David Moyes was furious with the officials after Royston Drenthe had a goal harshly ruled out for offside,
“It was a goal,” insisted Moyes. “We have had a sore deal, the last few games we’ve had really poor decisions in games against us.
“I can’t do anything about it. I’m not going to get myself into trouble.
“It cost us in the end trying to get something back after a really disappointing start.”