Wenger: Spirit of ‘Invincibles’ in this team
Arsene Wenger believes the spirit of Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ is alive and kicking within his current squad after the Gunners claimed their eighth straight Premier League win for the first time since that unbeaten 2004 campaign.
Aaron Ramsey’s 12th minute goal secured a 1-0 win over battling Burnley at Turf Moor and Wenger sees no reason why his side cannot draw on that illustrious chapter in their history by extending that streak until the end of the season.
With injury problems easing and the emergence of a new generation of talent encapsulated by French midfielder Francis Coquelin, Wenger’s men have emerged as the most likely title challengers to Chelsea, to whom this win narrowed the gap to four points.
Wenger said: “I always hope for the best of my team but no manager in the world if he is serious can predict a run like that.
“(But) I would just remind you that we won a championship without losing a game. We are only one who has done that - nobody else has done it.
“We are already in a position that nobody believed possible one month ago for us, so we just focus on ourselves and see where we stand at the end of the season.”
What pleased Wenger most at Turf Moor was the way his side shrugged off assertions that have clung to them in recent seasons that there are sporadic occasions when they are not up for the fight.
If ever there was an afternoon when previous Gunners sides might have buckled it was surely this one, with Burnley fighting for their top-flight lives in difficult, swirling conditions.
Ramsey’s poked opener after the home side failed to deal with the threat of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil in the box gave Wenger some breathing space, but the home side hit back with an excellent period early in the second half.
George Boyd was inches from connecting with a Ben Mee cross and an audacious Danny Ings bicycle kick flashed just wide as the visitors were forced to ride their luck.
Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud endured a frustrating afternoon as he was well shackled by the Burnley rearguard but admitted his own pride in the performance - and believes it proved they can maintain their current run until the end of the campaign.
Giroud said: “You can’t play your best football in every game. We tried to be focused on not conceding and we kept calm because they played really tough against us - it was a big fight.
“It’s really good for us and I’m really proud to take part in this performance but we don’t want to stop here. We want to carry on and keep this good run going until the end.”
Wenger’s post-match words of praise for Burnley will have come as scant consolation but the Clarets are still only two points from safety and focus on a relatively favourable run-in having come through a series of daunting fixtures against the big guns relatively unscathed.
And for midfielder Kieran Trippier the fact that many outside east Lancashire have been writing his side off all season can only work in their favour in what promises to be a nail-biting last six games.
Trippier said: “We knew it was going to be difficult moving into this league and people were writing us off but we’re still there, we’re still fighting and we’ve got six massive games to come now.
“We give everything and that’s the thing about our team - we’ve got a spirit and our belief is so strong, and every game we play we give everything.
“We’re disappointed we didn’t come out with a point in the end. We gave a bad goal away but that’s the difference in this league - you give chances to Arsenal and they will put them away.”