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Arsenal eager to bounce back after derby loss

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WENGER-BOOED

LONDON, February 9 – Arsenal will try to recover from their north London derby defeat by Tottenham Hotspur when they face bottom-of-the-table Leicester City at the Emirates on Tuesday.

The Gunners have become synonymous with managerial stability during French boss Arsene Wenger’s more than 18 years in charge of the club.

Leicester, by contrast, were compelled to issue a statement late Sunday insisting Nigel Pearson was still their manager.

A whirlwind 24 hours followed City’s home defeat by Crystal Palace on Saturday that left them rooted at the foot of the Premier League table, with earlier suggestions that their manager of three-and-a-half years had been sacked proving incorrect.

Both sides will have a point to prove, with Arsenal anxious to revive their bid for a top four finish, having fallen to sixth after Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Spurs.

The Gunners will be strengthened by the return of Alexis Sanchez to the squad after the Chile forward was forced to sit out the trip to White Hart Lane with a hamstring problem.

And they will draw some comfort from the fact Manchester United failed to beat West Ham on Sunday, with the 1-1 draw ensuring Louis Van Gaal’s fourth-placed side remain within touching distance, with just a two-point gap separating Arsenal from the Dutchman’s team.

On paper, Tuesday’s match should be a routine victory for Wenger’s side who cruised to a 5-0 victory over Aston Villa on their last home outing.

But events at Leicester have added an element of uncertainty and Wenger was keen to see a positive response from his players.

– Focus –

“It’s not the first time we have lost a game but how we bounce back is to take the information from what we got and respond very quickly against Leicester. We must be ready to respond.

“Overall, there’s a long way to go this season. I believe that we must just keep going and recover, show quickly a strong response and then we see where we stand after that.

“We just must focus on us as there are lots of teams battling to get in there (for the top four).”

Wenger was unsure as to whether Sanchez would be in the starting line-up or on the substitutes’ bench.

But his return in any first-team capacity will be welcomed after Arsenal and England striker Danny Welbeck admitted the Gunners fell short up front against Spurs.

Welbeck returned at Tottenham after a month out and conceded there was plenty of room for improvement.

“As a team, going forward we didn’t do as well as we could have done and they took advantage of that,” Welbeck said.

“It was really disappointing and on a personal level it was difficult for me to get back in the swing of things after being out for a few weeks,” the former Manchester United forward added.

“We’ve got a couple of days turnover and then we’ve got another game in the Premier League, so we’ve got to prepare well for that game.”

Results this season have made Pearson’s position increasingly vulnerable and a touchline spat with James McArthur after the Palace midfielder had collided with the Leicester manager did not help matters.

But the Englishman has remained in charge for the Arsenal game.

“It’s very easy to be downbeat and negative about results like the Crystal Palace one but we can’t do anything about it now,” Pearson said after Saturday’s match — before Sunday’s stream of speculation about his future.

“If people want to write us off, then fine, we’ll dust ourselves down and get on with it on Tuesday against Arsenal.

“In a game against Palace, who are a side that have had some good results recently but were relatively close to us before Saturday, we needed to keep them as close, or bring them even closer.

“We’ve failed to do that because we’ve not really been able to take the chances that we created, and that’s disappointing for us.”

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