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Friday 15 December 2017

wenger bouyed by sanchez drive

Arsenal boss looks to returning striker to bounce back

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is in no doubt his squad have the necessary experience to win the battle for Champions League qualification once again.

The Gunners find themselves down in sixth place in the Premier League following Saturday's 2-1 defeat at White Hart Lane, where a second-half salvo from Harry Kane secured Tottenham fans the bragging rights around north London.

However, Arsenal could once again leapfrog their local rivals - who travel to Liverpool - and end up in third should they beat bottom club Leicester tonight, when leading scorer Alexis Sanchez is expected to be available again following a hamstring strain.

Wenger believes the fight for a top-four finish will, as in previous campaigns, go down to the wire, when Arsenal have historically come good for the past 17 seasons.

"Yes, of course, experience will play a big part in it," the Frenchman said. "It will be tight for everybody and that is what it is about.

"It is about the team with the most consistency - I have always said that - and I feel we have shown that we can deal with that kind of pressure in the past.

"I am confident we can do it again. Every year (there is a danger of not finishing in the top four) and every year we were under threat until the last game, basically. (But) every year we have managed to do it.

"We have a good opportunity to show that we have the strength to deal with that pressure and I am completely convinced we have the quality (to do it)."

Chile forward Sanchez has plundered 18 goals this term, but was not risked against Spurs.

Wenger, though, is expecting the £32million signing from Barcelona to boost his options against the out-of-form Foxes.

"Alexis Sanchez will be back in the group and we don't have injuries from Saturday. Everybody else looked fine on Sunday," said Wenger, who confirmed midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was still out with a groin problem and Jack Wilshere was set to join full training following recovery from ankle surgery.

"He is our best goalscorer and one of our hardest-working players in the team.

"Physically I think we suffered a little bit on some occasions on Saturday and it is good to have him back."

Wenger is confident Arsenal can quickly get the poor display at Tottenham out of their system, having gone into the match on the back of five straight victories.

"We are responsible for what we produce on the pitch and we have to continue to move forward and deal with all the rest," said Wenger, who became irritated as questions continued over the fall-out from Saturday's loss, where Arsenal failed to build on an early goal by Mesut Ozil.

Wenger, however, indicated he would not tolerate another drop in work-rate.

"For us it is important that our players on the pitch contribute when we lose the ball and contribute when we have the ball," he said.

"You have good eyes - you see as well those who do it and those who don't do it."

Leicester boss Nigel Pearson, meanwhile, has hit out at Match of the Day pundits for making a "mountain out of a molehill" following his clash with James McArthur.

The Foxes boss - the centre of sacking speculation on Sunday - was involved in a bizarre flashpoint with the Crystal Palace midfielder in Saturday's 1-0 defeat to the Eagles.

The pair collided during the game before Pearson appeared to grab McArthur by the throat before holding onto his shirt to prevent him rejoining the game.

We have shown that we can deal with that kind of pressure.

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