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Wenger Stresses Focus on League

The Champions League has left us behind. Despite a good 2-2 draw in the first leg against the defending champs, Barcelona were too good on their home ground and won 4-1 and 6-3 on aggregate. And now, like manager Arsene Wenger has stated, Arsenel needs to focus their complete attention to the English league.

The Gunners are 3 points away from Chelsea FC and the top of the table and will face local rivals Tottenham Hotspurs on Wednesday. Wenger believes his third-placed side must bounce back with a win at White Hart Lane on 14 April if they are to keep alive their hopes of avoiding a fifth successive season with any silverware. Manchester United has a point advantage over Arsenal and sit in second place.

Their visit to White Hart Lane is one of two remaining matches against teams in the top half of the table for Arsenal this season, with Manchester City coming to the Emirates on 24 April. Their fixture list is completed by away trips to Blackburn and Fulham and a final-day clash with Fulham at the Emirates.

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Arsenal 1 Wolves 0

Arsenal’s title chances were kept alive by a late injury time goal by striker Nicklas Bendtner as the Gunners snatched a victory over 10 men Wolverhampton. The London side seemed set to drop decisive points until substitute Bendtner rose to head home Bacary Sagna’s cross. The hosts dominated the game but were frustrated by their own inability in front of goal and Wolves’ commitment.

Even after Karl Henry’s dismissal for a lunge on Tomas Rosicky, Wolves battled hard but have nothing to show for it. Once again Arsenal were thankful to the late contribution of Bendtner, who scored a last-minute winner at Hull last month and who came off the bench here to score a goal that keeps the Gunners three points behind leaders Chelsea, who won 2-1 at Manchester United in Saturday’s early kick-off.

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Multiple Injury Setbacks For Gunner

Captain Cesc Fabregas, who had been a doubt for Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final first leg against Barcelona after suffering severe bruising to his knee and leg at Birmingham, sustained the small fracture when fouled by Carles Puyol for the crucial late penalty which earned Arsenal a 2-2 draw. He will be out for at least six weeks with a cracked bone in his right fibula.

It means the Arsenal skipper will miss the rest of the Premier League season and is a serious doubt for the World Cup finals. The midfielder will still be injured when Spain have to announce their provisional squad on May 12.

While the loss of Fabregas may not be quite so damaging for Spain, with the 22-year-old starting only three of his country’s World Cup qualifiers, Arsenal will surely find it difficult to challenge for honours at home and in Europe without their talismanic captain. Although he was able to get up and fire home from the spot he was immediately in discomfort during his celebration. Fabregas left Emirates Stadium on crutches and had admitted he feared the worst.

Arsenal trail Premier League leaders Manchester United by four points, and while they may have favourable fixtures the loss of Fabregas, as well as William Gallas, for the rest of the campaign will make their task difficult. Andrei Arshavin also went off injured against Barcelona and will be out for most of April.

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Arsenal 1 Birmingham City 1

A stoppage time equalizer scored by Kevin Phillips blasted a big dent in Arsenal’s title hopes as they failed to secure a victory over Birmingham City. The match ended 1-1 and left the Gunners 4 points below Manchester United and 3 below Chelsea.

The Gunners took the lead in the 81st minute when Samir Nasri fired into the far corner from the edge of the area. But deep into added-time, a Bacary Sagna clearance struck Phillips and flew through Manuel Almunia’s hands. Phillips raced away in delight after the 250th goal of his impressive career, but he knew little about the strike which hit his head and was parried by Almunia before looping in.

United had a resounding 4-0 win over Bolton while Chelsea hammed Aston Villa 7-1.

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Wenger Out To Sign Two Defenders?

With William Gallas, Mikaël Silvestre and Sol Campbell are all out of contract at the end of the season, coach Arsene Wenger is making defense his priority. Talks with Gallas, who would like the security of a two-year contract extension, remain ongoing, although the France defender’s negotiating position is hardly being helped by what Wenger described as an “endless calf strain”. Gallas will be 33 in August, but has not played since the 1-0 win against Liverpool more than a month ago and is a major doubt for the first leg of Arsenal’s Champions League quarter-final, on March 30 or 31.

Silvestre is also due to hold contract talks this month, while Campbell, who has been generally deputising for Gallas in the most difficult matches, is likely to wait until the end of the season before finalising his future. With Johan Djourou still recovering from a long-term knee injury and Philippe Sender’s on loan at Everton, it leaves Thomas Vermaelen as the only fit and available centre-back whose long-term future is settled.

Wenger has been monitoring Fulham’s Brede Hangeland and, with Arsenal having recently recorded pre-tax profits of £35.2 million, he could certainly afford one major signing.Wenger has shown interest in bringing both Hangeland and Neven Subotic to the Emirates and this summer he would do well to invest a large chunk of any transfer warchest in strengthening and rejuvenating an ageing and stuttering back line. However Fulham’s towering Norwegian could well be a good signing and the type of player Wenger could get the most out of. Borussia Dortmund centre back Subotic is one for the future and the 21 year old Serbian may be a youthful prospect but he has already shown himself to have quality during his stint in the Bundesliga.

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Arsenal 2 West Ham United 0

Arsenal welcomed fellow London club West Ham United to the Emirates Stadium and after 5 minutes & some smart interplay between Denilson and Bendtner resulted in the little Brazilian scoring a neatly taken goal, slotting the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the box. Arsenal were off to a good start. And then….

Just before half-time, Arsenal conceded a penalty and Vermaelen was sent off. But fortunately, like the Champions League semi-final against Villarreal, our goalkeeper saved the resulting penalty and we went into the break 1-0 up. After that Song dropped into the back line, and as a team we defended excellently. Cesc clipped the ball up onto Upson’s arm in the 82nd minute, and scored the resulting penalty, 2-0.

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Arsenal 2 Hull City 1

It took an injury time goal by Nicklas Bendtner to give Arsenal the whole 3 points and bring the club level with Chelsea on 64 points at the top of the league table. The 2-1 win was looking very improbable right until the end and Twitter updates had almost all Arsenal fans groaning that this was the kind of match that usually spell doom for the Gunners. We are so glad to be wrong.

Arsenal struck first with a typically incisive move that ended with Andrey Arshavin firing in from close range. Sol Campbell’s foul on what looked an offside Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink allowed Jimmy Bullard to fire Hull level from the penalty spot. Hull battled well after George Boateng was sent off but Bendtner fired home in injury time to give Arsenal victory.

It was a vintage performance from Arsenal and it wasn’t pretty. Doesn’t matter, we need to win the odd ugly match here and there.

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Great Dane’s Hattrick Vitalizes Arsenal

That’s the way we gotta do it boys. Arsenal came back from losing the first leg of their round of 16 of the Champions League against Porto to pummel their opponents 5-0 at the Emirates Stadium. Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner – heavily criticised after a succession of misses in Saturday’s win against Burnley – scored twice in the first half & once in the second to wipe out the 2-1 lead Porto were protecting from the first game in Portugal.

Andrey Arshavin was instrumental in both first half goals as Bendtner added the final flourishes to Arsenal’s flowing attacking moves that enabled them to take control almost instantly. Samir Nasri, taking on Cesc Fabregas’ midfield mantle in the absence of Arsenal’s inspirational captain through injury, embarked on a weaving, angled solo run that took him past a succession of Porto defenders to score.

Substitute Emmanuel Eboue quickly added the fourth as Arsenal launched a sweeping counter-attack from a Porto corner, Arshavin again making life easy for his team-mate to go around Porto goalie Helton and score.

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Arsenal 3 Burnley 1

Arsenal defeated Burnely 3-1 last night to level on points with second-placed Chelsea. Cesc Fabregas opened the scoring when he slotted in from close range but soon afterwards he was forced off injured. Burnley equalised when David Nugent latched on to Leon Cort’s header and looped the ball over Manuel Almunia.

Theo Walcott curled in a sublime shot to ease the embarrassment of Nicklas Bendtner’s awful finishing before Andrey Arshavin rifled in a third. The result takes Arsenal to within two points of leaders Manchester United, who won at Wolves 1-0 later on Saturday. The Gunners are level on points with Chelsea but have an inferior goal difference and have played one game more than both their title rivals.

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Arsenal 3 Stoke City 1

Arsenal defeated Stoke City away but the match was marred by the horrific injury to young Welsh talent Aaron Ramsey. The Gunners midfielder’s ankle buckled under a challenge by Ryan Shawcross, who was sent off and departed in tears. Shawcross took a heavy touch and caught Ramsey just above the ankle as he stretched for the ball. The Welshman collapsed on contact and he was left writhing on the floor, with his right foot appearing to hang at an unnatural angle. Shawcross, who was later called up to the England squad, was shown a straight red card and while Ramsey received lengthy treatment, several Arsenal players looked visibly shaken.

Stoke had taken the lead when Danny Pugh headed in from Rory Delap’s long throw-in but Nicklas Bendtner levelled with a fine header back across goal. Cesc Fabregas scored a penalty before Thomas Vermaelen tapped in, as Arsenal moved to only three points off Chelsea, who lost 2-4 to Manchester City and have 61 points. Manchester United have 60 points.

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Arsenal 2 Sunderland 0

Despite struggling at times against Sunderland, Arsenal came out 2-0 winners and prepare to put the Champions League loss to Porto behind them. The Gunners wasted a series of chances before Nicklas Bendtner met Emmanuel Eboue’s cross to break the deadlock.

Arsenal sealed their win in injury time when Cesc Fabregas scored from the spot after he was fouled in the area. The winning margin should have been far greater, but the result means the Gunners’ title hopes are still very much alive despite losing to both the teams above them in recent weeks.  Manchester United’s surprise defeat by Everton earlier in the day meant the third-placed Gunners are now only two points behind the Old Trafford side, with leaders Chelsea a further four points clear.

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After The Loss

The disappointment of a loss is always there. The disappointment of losing to Manchester United is greater. Because they suck and they blow and the swallow.

Not sure if this derails our chances of winning the league but it sure is dampener onto an otherwise bright last few weeks. Losing 1-3 is not the way things were supposed to happen.

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Arsenal 4 Bolton 2

Coming back from 2 goals down, Arsenal scored 4 straight goals to beat Bolton 4-2 and temporarily go to the top of the English Premier League. Gary Cahill volleyed Bolton in front and Matthew Taylor scored from the penalty spot after a foul by Denilson.

Tomas Rosicky struck from 18 yards and Cesc Fabregas slid home a controversial equaliser, William Gallas having injured Mark Davies in the build-up. Thomas Vermaelen hit the third with his left foot before Andrey Arshavin scored after linking up with Eduardo.

Arsenal needed that 2 goal cushion to go to first place above Chelsea on goal difference. In the build-up to the goal Gallas challenged for the ball with Mark Davies – the Arsenal defender was late and caught his opponent on the ankle in what was an awful looking challenge.

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Sol Campbell To Return To Gunners

Former Arsenal star defender in the twilight of his career, Sol Campbell is set to make a surprise return to the Gunners. His signing should be completed in the next few days after he played 45 minutes for their reserves against West Ham. The 35-year-old former England defender has been a free agent since being released from his contract with League Two side Notts County in December.

The club have said he played in the 4-2 win “with a view to a permanent move back to Arsenal Football Club”. Campbell, who previously played for Tottenham Hotspurs & Portsmouth played only one game for Notts County after leaving Portsmouth. But after being strongly linked with a move to Championship leaders Newcastle, Campbell now seems set for a return to the club where he won two Premier League titles.

Campbell spent five years at Arsenal between 2001-2006, during which time he won two Premier League titles, three FA Cups and scored in the 2006 Champions League final defeat by Barcelona.

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Arsenal 2 Everton 2

It took an injury-time equaliser by oft injured Tomas Rosicky to rescue a point for Arsenal against Everton. Everton’s Leon Osman scored on both sides on the pitch – he put the visitors ahead when he headed in Landon Donovan’s corner. Arsenal clawed their way back into the game with a slice of good fortune as Denilson’s shot took a deflection off Osman to leave Tim Howard stranded.

Steven Pienaar raced clear and dinked the ball over Manuel Almunia to make it 2-1 but Rosicky’s shot was deflected in to salvage a draw for Arsenal. But the Gunners will be disappointed not have closed the gap further on their title rivals, with all but two Premier League matches falling victim to the big freeze. They are now three points behind leaders Chelsea, but no longer have a game in hand on their rivals.

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Arsenal 4 Portsmouth 1

It will be a very good New Year’s eve celebration for Arsenal players, staff & fans alike after the Gunners showcased their Premier League title credentials and increased Portsmouth’s troubles at the bottom with a stunningly comprehensive 4-1 win.

They took the lead when Eduardo’s free-kick deflected in off Younes Kaboul, before Samir Nasri fired in a second. Aaron Ramsey made it 3-0 with a brilliant solo goal, hammering in from 20 yards, before Nadir Belhadj’s close-range strike gave Pompey faint hope. But Alex Song superbly headed in a Nasri cross to wrap it up for Arsenal.

When you look at the stats, except for Eduardo, these are not regular goal scorers for us. Arsene Wenger’s men keep up the pressure at the top, moving to within four points of Chelsea and staying two behind Manchester United with a game in hand on each.

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Arsenal 3 Aston Villa 0

Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas came off the bench to inspire his side to a victory over Aston Villa. Fabregas picked himself up after being fouled by Richard Dunne and curled in a 25-yard free-kick with aplomb. The goal came after Villa keeper Brad Friedel had denied William Gallas from point-blank range and kept out an Andrey Arshavin shot. A first-time finish from Fabregas after a Theo Walcott pass and an Abou Diaby strike wrapped up the win for Arsenal.

Fabregas had started as a substitute because of a hamstring problem and was brought on after 57 minutes to give his side extra impetus in beating a stubborn Villa side. The move paid off for manager Arsene Wenger but he will be concerned that his skipper aggravated his injury in sprinting on to Walcott’s ideally weighted pass and had to be replaced on 84 minutes. However, the victory moved the Gunners to within four points of Premier League leaders Chelsea with a game in hand over their London rivals.

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Arsenal 3 Hull City 0

Arsenal show signs of struggling without influential captain/midfielder Cesc Fabregas & striker Robin Van Persie but still won 3-0 against Hull City. In a fesity match that boiled on the verge of nasty violence, Samir Nasri came up from behind Hull’s Richard Garcia and trod on his leg. From the set-piece, Denilson curled in a beautiful effort that was entirely out of place in an ugly match.

After the interval the Tigers were handed a way back into the match when Silvestre was harshly judged to have pulled back Fagan in the penalty area. Geovanni stepped up to take the spot-kick but Almunia beat the ball away and Hunt headed the rebound wide. Eduardo with a 59th minute goal deflated the visitors and Diaby closed out the scoring with an 80th minute after he exchanged passes with Andrey Arshavin and then smashed in a shot that left the Hull goalie with no chance.

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