Football

Wenger: Time to step up

Arsene Wenger feels his players owe themselves a big performance

EPL
LIVERPOOL ARSENAL

Arsene Wenger believes his Arsenal players owe themselves a good performance in a big game as they prepare to face Liverpool at Anfield Sunday morning (Singapore time).

The Gunners have once again struggled against their main rivals this season and are now in a fight to maintain their record of finishing in the Premiership's top four in all of Wenger's full seasons at the helm.

The 67-year-old insists he is still undecided over whether to end his 20-year reign as boss at the end of the current season, with supporter unrest growing in recent weeks.

Arsenal were surprisingly beaten at home by Watford before slipping to a 3-1 loss at Chelsea and a 5-1 thrashing in their Champions League tie away to Bayern Munich.

That saw them slip off the pace in the EPL title race and leaves them staring at a seventh straight Round-of-16 exit in Europe.

Wenger now wants to see his players step up their game.

"They owe themselves a performance," he said.

"They are quality players and I think on the day (at Bayern) it all went against us because we were 1-1 at half-time and in the second half everything went against us.

"We lost Laurent Koscielny quickly and then quickly conceded without having adjusted, we lost three goals - (in minutes) 53, 56 and 63. After that it was mentally very difficult.

"We responded at Sutton (a 2-0 FA Cup win), that was quite a tricky game and we want to respond again tomorrow. We have an opportunity against Bayern after that to show we can cause them problems."

Wenger is keen to address a wretched run against the current EPL top six.

He has guided Arsenal to just three wins in their last 23 away games at Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool, Man City and Man United and believes victory at Anfield can help alleviate any psychological barrier that has developed as a result of that run.

"It is even more important because we have not done well recently in these kind of games," he said.

"For us, this kind of game like Liverpool is of course an opportunity that we want to take. We have to go and take it and not wait for the result.

"The result comes with an attacking attitude and that for me is the most important. That we go to just start on a positive attitude - for the rest of the season, of course it will have vital consequences."

Wenger, who side are 13 points adrift of leaders Chelsea having played a game less, is keen to focus more on beating Liverpool than fantasising about a dream run to the title.

He said: "At the moment I think it's more important that we focus on winning our games and focus on our next game rather than dreaming about coming back to Chelsea."

Arsenal's chances will be boosted by a return to fitness for both Laurent Koscielny and Aaron Ramsey, while Danny Welbeck is now in contention to start the game. - PA SPORT

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