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English Premiership

Wenger’s hopes lifted by fighting spirit

WENGER-DOWNWEST BROMWICH, United Kingdom, April 7 – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes the battling qualities shown by his side will ensure they qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Wenger’s side secured a 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns on Saturday thanks to two goals from Czech Republic international Tomas Rosicky.

Arsenal were made to work hard for the points, though, after they went down to 10 men following the dismissal of Per Mertesacker for a foul on Shane Long inside the penalty area.

James Morrison converted the resulting penalty but despite a sustained period of pressure, the home side were unable to find an equaliser as Arsenal’s players fought hard to secure a victory.

And Wenger remains confident his side will win the battle to finish fourth in the Premier League after the determination shown by his team.

“I believe we will do it. We are conscious as well we have to give 100 percent commitment in every game and it will be difficult and edgy to the end,” Wenger said.

“We know we have one target – to win our games, then we don’t have to look at Tottenham Hotspur or Chelsea. If you lose our games, then you have to look at the results of the others. Our attitude is simple: we have to win the games.

“I am very pleased, it is three big points. We have 22 points out of the last 27 but we know our target is to continue to do that until the end of the season. We are ready for the fight.

“It was a difficult game against a good West Bromwich side, who were really up for it. They fought until the very last second of the game.

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“We have shown important aspects to our game: control and technical quality, and one that is less known, fighting spirit and battling qualities that reflect well on the spirit in our side.”

Rosicky’s performance in particular drew praise from Wenger, who is keen for the player to end his career at the London club.

The 32-year-old midfielder, who had only scored one goal this season before the match against West Brom, has just over one year left on his current deal.

“He was fantastic. He is an important player for us. Unfortunately he was out injured for a long time but every year he gives us a push at the end of the season,” Wenger said.

“Tomas is a quality player and he looked dangerous. I hope he finishes his career with us. I rate him that highly.”

Albion manager Steve Clarke insists there is no danger of his players relaxing in the remainder of the campaign despite there being relatively little for them to play for.

Clarke’s players showed plenty of pluck against Arsenal and even though they look set to end the season in mid-table, he believes they will continue to push for the maximum number of points available.

“I don’t think you can say we took it easy or we didn’t show a determination to get something against Arsenal. At 2-0 down it would have been easy to switch off, but we didn’t,” Clarke said.

“We kept going and tried to get back in it, and we created a number of really good chances that fell to people who normally score them. On another day, we could be talking about a good comeback from 2-0 down.

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“I can’t guarantee results but I can guarantee in every game between now and the end of the season, the team will have a go. We’ll try and reach the next target we’ve set, which is 50 points.

“It would be nice to get at least one more league win here at home out of the three we’ve got left, because that then gives us a record here for the number of Premier League home wins.

“We’ve got plenty to keep ourselves occupied and keep ourselves ambitious about.”

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