Title talk won't be a distraction: Arsenal boss Wenger

AFP , Saturday 11 Apr 2015

Wenger
Wenger (Photo: Reuters)

Arsene Wenger insists there is no chance he will let Arsenal's players become distracted by talk of a late challenge for the Premier League title.

After a slow start to the campaign, Wenger's side have hit their stride in recent weeks and they head to struggling Burnley on Saturday looking for an eighth successive league victory.

But despite second placed Arsenal's superb run, which includes 15 wins in the last 17 matches in all competitions, Gunners boss Wenger knows the title race remains firmly in Chelsea's control as the leaders hold a seven point advantage and also a game in hand on their London rivals.

"I have enough experience to know that I have to live with reality and reality is points and the next game," he said.

"The dreams are for everybody - we all have dreams at night, but when I wake up in the morning I have to come here and make sure we give everything to win the next game.

"Chelsea have a difficult schedule, we have a difficult schedule, but what we can only do is master our own schedule."

Meanwhile, Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney is eager to add to Manchester City's woes in Sunday's derby at Old Trafford.

A marked reversal in fortunes means third-placed United lead fourth-placed defending champions City by a point heading into this weekend's clash.

England striker Rooney, 29, is now United's leading derby scorer in history with 11 goals against City since arriving at Old Trafford from Everton in 2004.

City, however, have had the upper hand in recent times, winning their last four matches against United and Rooney is desperate to put an end to that run.

"You play for Man United, you want to win these derby games," he told MUTV.

"We want to give United fans something to smile about when they go to work on Monday morning, we want them to be the ones to be able to give out the banter to Manchester City fans at work.

"I think it's a very important game for Manchester United and Manchester City... for the fans and, for me, it's a massive game of pride."

PELLEGRINI UNDER FIRE

Victory on Sunday would put United four points in front of City, under pressure after dropping to fourth following a shock 2-1 loss to Crystal Palace on Monday.

City have won just four of their last 11 league games but manager Manuel Pellegrini insisted he wasn't concerned about his own position.

"I'm never concerned about my job. I do my work and am very happy. You maybe have a difficult season, but you never worry about things like this," Pellegrini said.

As for the title race, the Chilean added: "Every point you drop makes it more difficult, but it's the same answer. We are not thinking about the title... Just about the next game at Old Trafford."

Chelsea will take a giant stride towards the title if they win away on Sunday to west London rivals QPR, who gained a battling point in their Premier League survival bid with a 3-3 midweek draw at Aston Villa.

The build-up to this week's match has seen Jose Mourinho accept publicly what friends and foes have long acknowledged – that he is a master manipulator.

"I agree that sometimes I can have something of Machiavelli in some of my comments, but no more than that," Mourinho said.

Villa travel to Tottenham on Saturday with manager Tim Sherwood adamant he bore no resentment towards his former club for sacking him as their boss last year.

"I wouldn't be sitting here as Aston Villa manager if it wasn't for Tottenham Hotspur," Sherwood said."I was relieved of my duties and walked out with my head held very high. I was pleased with what I did."

Southampton continue their quest for Europa League football at home to Hull while bottom-of-the-table Leicester face West Bromwich Albion.

Liverpool, beaten 4-1 by Arsenal last time out, face Newcastle at Anfield on Monday.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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