Tag Archives: premier

Demba Ba begs Rafa Benitez to play him and Fernando Torres up front together for Chelsea

Play me and Torres up front… we'll blast Chelsea back into the Champions League, insists Ba

By
Andy James

PUBLISHED:

14:45 GMT, 19 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

15:16 GMT, 19 April 2013

Demba Ba has told Chelsea boss Rafa Benitez that he and Fernando Torres are ready to start up front together in Sunday's Barclays Premier League clash against Liverpool.

Benitez has rotated the two strikers in a 4-2-3-1 formation since Ba joined from Newcastle in January but the pair combined effectively in the second half of last weekend's 2-1 FA Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester City.

Benitez faces a selection dilemma with Torres desperate to start at his former club and Ba's form in front of goal making him hard to ignore – but the Senegalese insists they can play together.

Ba

Torres

Partners in crime Demba Ba (left) has said he wants to play with Fernando Torres (right) up front for Chelsea

He told the London Evening Standard:
'When he came on the pitch against City he helped me a lot. We caused
them problems so I think we could play together.

'We combined against Brentford earlier
in the competition, too, so I don’t believe it would be a problem for
us. Most of the time we have to fight against the two central defenders
on our own. If you have an extra body there, it makes it easier.

'This is also very important in
football, to be able to control the game. I would understand if Fernando
wants to start against Liverpool. We’re not making the decision but I
would understand if he does.

One or the other: Ba (left) has rarely played with Torres, the two usually used as like-for-like replacements

One or the other: Ba (left) has rarely played with Torres, the two usually used as like-for-like replacements

Chelsea

Meanwhile, Benitez insists he is
focused only on the immediate future and not his past with Liverpool as
he prepares to take his Chelsea side to Anfield.

In a press conference on Friday the
Spaniard declined to assess Liverpool since his departure in June 2010
or to talk about events at Anfield ahead of his first return as an
opposing manager.

'I have a lot of respect, but I have to concentrate on my team,' Benitez said.

'I don't want any misunderstanding, so
I will concentrate just on Chelsea and the game and try to enjoy it,
especially if we can win.'

Job at hand: Rafa Benitez insists he is only focused on Chelsea ahead of his return to Liverpool

Job at hand: Rafa Benitez insists he is only focused on Chelsea ahead of his return to Liverpool

Benitez is expected to receive a warm
welcome in the week which marked both his 53rd birthday and the 24th
anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.

He spent six years at Anfield, helping
Liverpool to the 2005 Champions League in his first season, the FA Cup,
the Community Shield and European Super Cup, while the Reds finished
second in the Premier League in 2008-09.

His family home remains on Merseyside
and he supports the campaigners in their fight for justice for the 96
supporters killed at Hillsborough in 1989.

His is a lasting bond with Liverpool, but Benitez's aim is to defeat his former club.

'I'm a professional and I am committed
with Chelsea until the end of the season, to win, to achieve our
targets,' said Benitez, who is out of contract at the end of the
campaign.

Flying the flag: Benitez is still a hugely popular figure at Anfield, having won them the Champions League in 2005

Flying the flag: Benitez is still a hugely popular figure at Anfield, having won them the Champions League in 2005

'I was there for six years, winning a lot of things together.

'They (Liverpool supporters) will
appreciate that, but at the same time they will try to support their
team and they will understand that I have to try to do my best and win.'

Benitez recently was quoted as saying
he wanted to return 'home' to Liverpool and that his wish was to move to
a top club, possibly in England next season.

That was interpreted by some as a possible return to Liverpool, but Benitez meant his family home.

For reasons of clarity, the Spaniard declined the opportunity to appraise Reds incumbent Brendan Rodgers.

'I have a lot of respect for Liverpool Football Club and all their managers,' he said.

'What I said clearly is Liverpool is
my home, my family is living there and because I don't want any
misunderstanding, I will not talk about the club, the position or the
manager's position or whatever. My family's there, it's my home.'

PREMIER LEAGUE LIVE: Arsenal vs Norwich, Aston Villa vs Fulham, Everton vs QPR, Reading vs Liverpool, Southampton vs West Ham

PREMIER LEAGUE LIVE: Follow all the action as it happens

By
Adam Shergold

PUBLISHED:

01:00 GMT, 13 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

13:16 GMT, 13 April 2013

It may be FA Cup semi-final weekend, but there's still plenty of Premier League action to enjoy with five 3pm kick-offs on Saturday afternoon: Arsenal vs Norwich City, Aston Villa vs Fulham, Everton vs Queens Park Rangers, Reading vs Liverpool and Southampton vs West Ham United.

Join Adam Shergold for all the goals as they go in from 2pm.

LATEST SCORES

Arsenal vs Norwich City

Aston Villa vs Fulham

Everton vs Queens Park Rangers

Reading vs Liverpool

Southampton vs West Ham United

CLICK HERE FOR THE LIVE PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE

All the latest from the Championship

All the latest from League One

All the latest from League Two

Premier League badges

2.02pm LIVERPOOL team news versus Reading – Brendan Rodgers has made one change from last weekend's goalless draw with West Ham United, with Daniel Sturridge coming in for Stewart Downing.

Liverpool: Reina, Enrique, Johnson, Carragher, Agger, Lucas, Henderson, Gerrard, Sturridge, Suarez, Coutinho
Substitutes: Jones, Assaidi, Downing, Coates, Suso, Shelvey, Skrtel

Premier League badges

READING team news vs Liverpool
Reading: McCarthy, Gunter, Morrison, Mariappa, Kelly, Karacan, Guthrie, McAnuff, Hunt, McCleary, Pogrebnyak
Substitutes: Taylor, Harte, Pearce, Carrico, Le Fondre, Blackman

2pm Hello and welcome to Sportsmail's coverage of this afternoon's five Barclays Premier League matches.

The FA Cup semi-finals may take centre stage this weekend, but there's still plenty at stake in the top flight, particularly in the relegation battle.

Stay with us for all the team news, coming up shortly.

Premier League Saturday afternoon action

Sir Bobby Charlton says Sir Alex Ferguson will carry on at Manchester United "forever"

Fergie's time will never end: United legend Charlton backs Ferguson to 'go on for ever'

By
John Edwards

PUBLISHED:

14:25 GMT, 10 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

17:06 GMT, 10 April 2013

Sir Bobby Charlton fired an ominous warning to Manchester United’s main title rivals by insisting Sir Alex Ferguson looks like he will ‘go on forever.’

The United manager is closing in on his 13th Barclays Premier League crown at the ripe old age of 71, but any thoughts of bowing out after avenging last season’s late surrender to bitter rivals Manchester City could not be further from his mind, according to Sir Bobby.

‘There is nothing in his posture that suggests he is beginning to tire,’ said the United director. ‘Far from being tired, he has the same enthusiasm as ever. He is an unbelievable character, and I don’t see him ever losing that drive and enthusiasm.

Carry on, Fergie: Sir Bobby Charlton says Sir Alex Ferguson will go on for ever at Manchester United

Carry on, Fergie: Sir Bobby Charlton says Sir Alex Ferguson will go on for ever at Manchester United

‘He tried to retire once, and it was an absolute failure. Everyone wants to know the answer to that, because he can’t go on for ever. But I look at him and think that’s exactly what he will do.

‘He is a fantastic lover of football, and he is very clever when it comes to identifying a player he wants and coming to the board about it. He knows exactly what to do in those situations, and, to be fair, we try to give him exactly what he wants.

‘We haven’t got many directors at Old
Trafford, and we adopt the view that we need good players to be a top
team and that the manager is the best person to decide on who they
should be.

United heroes: Sir Bobby Charlton and Denis Law get together at Soccerex in Manchester

United heroes: Sir Bobby Charlton and Denis Law get together at Soccerex in Manchester

'We look after the business side of things, Alex the football side, and we give him what he wants. We leave pretty much everything to Alex, in a football sense.

‘The rivalry with City, and the way they have re-emerged, has probably provided him with an extra incentive. He just hates losing, no matter who the opposition are, and the defeat on Monday night will have hurt him.

'But the great thing is, he will pinpoint exactly why we lost and make sure it doesn’t happen again.’

Class of 68: Charlton exchanges shirts with former Benfica and Portugal legend Eusebio

Class of 68: Charlton exchanges shirts with former Benfica and Portugal legend Eusebio

A World Cup winner in 1966, Sir Bobby despairs of England ever lifting the trophy again.

‘When I’m asked about our prospects, I always feel obliged to say we’ve got a chance, but really it’s a fool’s errand,’ he said. ‘If so many places in Premier League teams are taken up by foreign players, we’ve got no chance.

‘Spain are absolutely my favourites for the finals in Brazil. Heaven forbid, but Germany are in with a chance as well, because they are so well coached, and Holland seem to be re-emerging as well.’

Julio Cesar: I"m staying in London, even if QPR go down

Cesar: Even if QPR are relegated, I'll be staying in London

By
Declan Warrington

PUBLISHED:

15:41 GMT, 9 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

17:11 GMT, 10 April 2013

Julio Cesar has revealed he is determined to remain in London, even if QPR are relegated from the Premier League.

The talented Brazil goalkeeper was a surprise summer signing at Loftus Road and has been one of their rare transfer successes and even rarer consistent performers over the course of a disastrous season.

Such is the likelihood that QPR are to be relegated back to the Championship, Cesar has been reported as being on the verge of a move to AC Milan, whose cross-city rivals Inter he left last summer.

Classy: Julio Cesar used to be considered one of the world's best goalkeepers

Classy: Julio Cesar used to be considered one of the world's best goalkeepers

Stopping short of committing himself to QPR, however, Cesar is adamant he regardless wishes to continue to play in the Premier League and insists he has no intention of undermining his time at Inter by moving to Milan.

'I'm still an Interista in my heart,' he told Corriere della Sport. 'I’m learning a new language in London, the city is beautiful and my family is happy.

'I was certainly not treated well by Inter. I love Italy, but I’ve been won over by the environment here.'

On his knees: But even he cannot save QPR's season from disaster

On his knees: But even he cannot save QPR's season from disaster

Cesar's apparent desire to remain in London significantly limits his options if he is to remain in the Premier League but it is not unthinkable that he will secure a suitable move.

Fulham were in January interested in recruiting a new goalkeeper although Mark Schwarzer's return to form means that stance may have changed, West Ham had attempted but failed to sign Paul Robinson and the Arsenal future of Wojciech Szczesny remains uncertain.

Should Watford gain promotion to the Premier League there is also a chance he could join their growing overseas contingent but the likelihood of each remains to be seen.

Cardiff 1 Barnsley 1 – match report: Stephen Foster equaliser denies Bluebirds

Cardiff 1 Barnsley 1: Last-minute equaliser stuns hosts, but Bluebirds remain on track for Premier League

By
Andrew Gwilym, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

21:08 GMT, 9 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

21:08 GMT, 9 April 2013

Stephen Foster grabbed a dramatic last-gasp equaliser to earn Barnsley a valuable point and hold up Cardiff's promotion push.

The hosts had looked set to move a step closer to the Barclays Premier League when centre-half Ben Turner guided home Kim Bo-Kyung's corner just before the hour mark.

The Welsh side also hit the post through Craig Bellamy, but they were punished for failing to capitalise on their dominance when Foster's deflected shot trickled over the line with what was effectively the last kick of the match.

Late drama: Foster is mobbed (middle) after scoring the equaliser for Barnsleyequaliser for Barnsley

Late drama: Foster is mobbed (middle) after scoring the equaliser for Barnsley

Match facts

Cardiff: Marshall, McNaughton, Turner, Barnett, Taylor, Smith (Conway 80), Kim (Whittingham 68), Gunnarsson, Mutch, Bellamy, Mason Mason (Helguson 58).

Subs not used: Lewis, Gestede, Noone, Nugent.

Booked: Gunnarsson, Barnett.

Scorer: Turner 59.

Barnsley: Steele, Wiseman, Hassell, Foster, Kennedy, Mellis (Dagnall 70) , Dawson, O'Brien (Cywka 61) , Perkins, Harewood (Scotland 67) , O'Grady.

Subs: Alnwick, Scotland, Dagnall, Jones, Cywka, Rose, Patterson.

Booked: O'Grady.

Scorer: Foster 90.

Referee: Fred Graham (Essex)

Attendance: 22,584.

Latest Championship results, fixtures and table

Despite the setback, Cardiff's
promotion still appears a formality as they now lead third-placed
Watford by nine points with five games remaining.

Barnsley, though, will not care about
spoiling the party after stealing a point which moves them two clear of
the drop zone, despite being penned in their own half for much of the
game.

The tone of the contest was set
during a confident start from the hosts, which saw Tommy Smith, Bellamy
and Aron Gunnarsson all got away shots on goal, although Luke Steele was
only required to save the first of those efforts.

Bellamy came close to rewarding the
bright opening in the 18th minute – Steele diverting his shot against
the post after the Wales international retrieved Smith's fizzing ball
across the box.

Barnsley were happy to drop deep and
look to hit on the break, but it took almost half an hour for them to
threaten the Cardiff goal; Marlon Harewood had the ball in the net but
was correctly called back for offside.

Jordan Mutch, Kim and Gunnarsson were
enjoying the run of midfield, and Steele made an excellent save to tip
the former Birmingham man's stinging drive round the post.

The midfield trio linked beautifully
again on 37 minutes, and it took a brave Foster block to deny Gunnarsson
as he prepared to pull the trigger.

The extent of Cardiff's dominance was
such it appeared a case of when, not if, they would open the scoring,
but the Tykes gave them a real scare early in the second half.

The Bluebirds were slow to react to a
short corner and Bobby Hassell just failed to make a telling contact
with David Perkins' pin-point cross.

Cardiff responded to the wake-up call
and a lovely touch from Mutch set up Kim for the Korean to fire across
goal, while Leon Barnett could not adjust in time after Steele punched
poorly in his own six-yard box.

Going up Cardiff will hope they can still gain promotion with the remaining five games

Going up Cardiff will hope they can still gain promotion with the remaining five games

Going up Cardiff will hope they can still gain promotion with the remaining five games

Going up Cardiff will hope they can still gain promotion with the remaining five games

The pressure had to tell, and the goal finally came from an unlikely source.

Kim whipped a dangerous corner into
the six-yard box and Turner stuck out a leg to guide the ball just
inside the post for his first goal of the season.

The lead was almost doubled three
minutes later. Mutch had a shot blocked by Hassell, while Barnett and
Gunnarsson had efforts cleared off the line from the resulting corner.

With a single-goal lead, Cardiff were
far from out of sight, and Harewood spurned Barnsley's best chance of
the night with a tame effort from Stephen Dawson's astute pass.

Substitute Heidar Helguson wasted a
wonderful chance to wrap up the three points in stoppage time, and it
proved costly as Foster's shot took a big deflection to leave David
Marshall stranded and level the scores.

Margaret Thatcher passes away: Dave Whelan wants minute"s silence for former Prime Minister

Wigan boss Whelan calls for Wembley silence before Millwall clash to honour former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

17:09 GMT, 9 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

17:09 GMT, 9 April 2013

Wigan chairman Dave Whelan has called for a one-minute silence in honour of Baroness Margaret Thatcher.

The former Prime Minister died yesterday, aged 87 after suffering a stroke.

Whelan, whose Wigan side face Millwall in their FA Cup semi-final clash on Saturday, believes football fans should pay their respects to the deceased prime Minister.

Eyes on the prize: Dave Whelan would like a minute's silence for the former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

Eyes on the prize: Dave Whelan would like a minute's silence for the former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

Speaking to the BBC, Whelan said: 'We owe Mrs Thatcher a minute's silence.

'We have to say thank you very much for the service she gave'.

But the Premier League have told Sportsmail there are no plans for a one-minute silence ahead of this weekend fixtures.

Manchester United champions scarves already on sale outside Old Trafford

It's not wrapped up yet! 'Champions' scarves already on sale outside Old Trafford… but not many fans will want to display their 'friendship' merchandise

By
Charlie Skillen

PUBLISHED:

18:35 GMT, 8 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

07:01 GMT, 9 April 2013

Fans heading to Monday night's Manchester derby are sure to take notice of some of the scarves on sale outside Old Trafford.

The merchandise traders have got in early by proudly selling United 'Champions 20 times' scarves – despite the Premier League title not yet being mathematically over.

With the slogan 'Are you watching
City' emblazoned across the top, they are likely to become collectors'
items should City's win spark a shock late run to the title.

Ahead of the game: A United scarf seller proudly displays a '20 times Champions' scarf

Ahead of the game: A United scarf seller proudly displays a '20 times Champions' scarf

While the '20 times' scarves are sure to be a popular purchase for the home supporters, another design on sale might not fly off the shelves.

Half-red, half-blue 'friendship' scarves were also on display, despite the rivalry between the two clubs.

But 'friendship' is sure to be the last thing on either side's mind as they battle for the title.

Friendship: Half-and-half scarves were also on sale despite the rivalry between the neighbouring clubs

Friendship: Half-and-half scarves were also on sale despite the rivalry between the neighbouring clubs

Scarves

Mixed messages: The United-City 'friendship' scarf (left) alongside a more partisan piece of merchandise

Mixed messages: The United-City 'friendship' scarf (left) alongside a more partisan piece of merchandise

Gareth Bale injury latest: Tottenham to use blood-spinning technique to speed up Welshman"s return

Spurs banking on blood-spinning remedy to get star man Bale back in double-quick time

By
Sami Mokbel

PUBLISHED:

22:02 GMT, 8 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

01:41 GMT, 9 April 2013

RACE FOR TOP FOUR – AS IT STANDS

TOP FOUR

Click HERE for the full Premier League table

Tottenham are putting their faith in the once controversial blood-spinning technique to speed up Gareth Bale's recovery from an ankle injury.

Bale's season looked to be over last Thursday after the Welshman sustained a serious looking ankle injury in Spurs' 2-2 draw against Basle.

But after a scan on Friday, it emerged
that Bale would only miss two games – Sunday's 2-2 draw against Everton
and the Europa League quarter-final second leg clash in Switzerland on
Thursday night.

Scroll down for Premier League highlights

Scare: Gareth Bale was stretchered off against Basle at White Hart Lane

Scare: Gareth Bale was stretchered off against Basle at White Hart Lane

Crucial: Bale has scored 17 league goals for Tottenham this season

Crucial: Bale has scored 17 league goals for Tottenham this season

Manager Andre Villas-Boas is understandably keen to have Bale fit again as quickly as possible and club doctors will use the blood-spinning method to aid his recovery from injury as Tottenham look to get their star man back on the field for the visit of Manchester City on April 21.

The technique, which was also used on Jermain Defoe earlier in the season as he struggled to overcome a pelvic injury, involves a small sample of a person's blood being injected out of the body before it is spun to increase the concentration of the growth hormone.

The blood sample is then injected into the athlete's problem area which can help an injury heal five times faster.

Blood-spinning first came under the spotlight in 2005 when Chelsea, then managed by Jose Mourinho, were warned by the World Anti-Doping Agency that their use of the method to speed up Arjen Robben's recovery from injury may be illegal – but it is now more commonly used in sport.

Meanwhile, there was better news on the injury front for Tottenham on Monday night as Younes Kaboul made his long-awaited return from a knee injury.

The French defender has not played since the opening-day defeat by Newcastle, but he is on course to play a part in Spurs' crucial Premier League run-in after making his return to action against West Ham Under 21s on Monday.

Back: Younes Kaboul (right) made his long-awaited return from injury on Monday night

Back: Younes Kaboul (right) made his long-awaited return from injury on Monday night

VIDEO: Watch highlights of Tottenham's 2-2 draw against Everton

.epl_container,.epl_top_container, .spon_left, .spon_right, .epl_cleardisplay:block;margin:0px;padding:0px;min-height:0px;font-size:0px;border:0px;white-space:nowrap;
.epl_containerbackground-color:#000000;
.epl_top_containerbackground:#F9F9F9 url(http://l.yimg.com/i/i/uk/any/e/bkg.jpg) repeat-x scroll top;
.spon_leftwidth:140px;float:left;height:60px;overflow:hidden;background:#000000 url(http://l.yimg.com/i/i/uk/any/e/ylogo.jpg) no-repeat;
.spon_rightwidth:160px;float:right;height:60px;overflow:hidden;background:#000000 url(http://l.yimg.com/i/i/uk/any/e/right.jpg) no-repeat;
.epl_clearclear:both;

Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez says Blues" fans offer him support when they meet him

'Rafa, we love you really!' Benitez insists he has plenty of support on the street as Chelsea fans finally offer him backing

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

15:41 GMT, 8 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

16:23 GMT, 8 April 2013

Unpopular Chelsea boss Rafa Benitez believes Blues supporters do love him really — at least they tell him that when they bump into him in the street.

The interim manager at Stamford Bridge has had to endure almost consistent hostility from the club’s faithful, but he says it isn’t the same in the streets.

Benitez told Spanish newspaper Marca: ‘I spend most of my time here at the Cobham training centre and almost never go into London. And I have to say this – people are very civil to me out on the streets. Many Blues fans stop me and tell me to keep on plugging away and not to listen to the critics. I have a lot more day-to-day support than is shown, and people think.’

Favourite Rafa Benitez says that Chelsea fans tell him they like him when they meet in the streets

Favourite Rafa Benitez says that Chelsea fans tell him they like him when they meet in the streets

Out: Benitez may not have met the majority of Chelsea fans who have been calling for his head

Out: Benitez may not have met the majority of Chelsea fans who have been calling for his head

Soldiering on: Chelsea are still in with a chance of winning both the FA Cup and the Europa League

Soldiering on: Chelsea are still in with a chance of winning both the FA Cup and the Europa League

He also believes this Chelsea side — who are enjoying a run of form under the Spanish manager — are in a period of transition.

He
added: ‘We do have a squad which is a bit thin in some areas. People
still think that this is the Chelsea of Drogba, Essien or Lampard at its
finest. But now it is a side in transition, with Hazard, Mata, Oscar,
Marn and Moses. They are young players who have to adapt. We are moving
away from a physical side like the old one to a team which is much more
technical.’

Meanwhile,
Benitez knows Chelsea’s Champions League fate could hinge on the
Barclays Premier League clash with Tottenham but is relaxed about the
twists and turns in the race for the top four.

Respect: Rafa Benitez embracing new Sunderland's boss Paolo Di Canio before the game on Sunday

Respect: Rafa Benitez embracing new Sunderland's boss Paolo Di Canio before the game on Sunday

Evolution: Benitez says the new era of Chelsea revolves around Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar

Evolution: Benitez says the new era of Chelsea revolves around Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar

A win for Arsenal on Saturday saw last season’s Champions League winners Chelsea in fifth ahead of their match with Paolo Di Canio’s Sunderland yesterday.

But the Blues returned to third with a come-from-behind 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge, moving above Tottenham on goal difference after Spurs were held to a draw by sixth-placed Everton.

'We knew that we had to win and especially because they (Tottenham and Arsenal) will continue winning,' Benitez told Chelsea TV.

'The main thing for me is the big picture, so keep calm. We have a good team, if we perform at our level we can win against anyone.

'You have some bad games and good games but it will be the same for them.

'We have to carry on. We have one game in hand on Tottenham so if we can do well, especially against them, maybe it’s a game that can mean six points.'

A date for the Tottenham fixture is still to be determined after Chelsea’s progress to Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final with Manchester City forced the game to be rearranged.

Should Chelsea confirm their place in the Europa League semi-finals by completing an aggregate victory over Rubin Kazan on Thursday, the window of opportunity for the Spurs fixture will be small and it will likely take place in the first week of May.

Arsenal gunning for Tottenham after West Brom win at the Hawthorns

Watch out Tottenham: Arsenal are Gunning for you after West Bromwich victory

By
Laura Williamson

PUBLISHED:

21:30 GMT, 7 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

07:10 GMT, 8 April 2013

Arsenal fans sang ‘Tottenham Hotspur, we’re coming for you,’ at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday as their team moved into fourth place in the Barclays Premier League for the first time since Boxing Day.

Their glee was understandable. Arsenal's victory at the Hawthorns was their sixth win in their last seven Premier League outings and allowed Arsene Wenger's side to put their feet up on Sunday and see how Champions League qualification rivals Tottenham and Chelsea responded.

'Playing on Saturday is fantastic when you win,' said Wenger. 'When you lose, it's a disaster. But, as long as we win, it's always better for me to play, if you can, before (our rivals).

Czech mate: Tomas Rosicky scored a first-half brace in Arsenal's 2-1 victory at West Bromwich Albion

Czech mate: Tomas Rosicky scored a first-half brace in Arsenal's 2-1 victory at West Bromwich Albion

Czech mate: Tomas Rosicky scored a first-half brace in Arsenal's 2-1 victory at West Bromwich Albion

Premier League table

'Ideally, I would like to be in the Champions League as well, but – if you are on a good run – maybe it can be a little advantage because you can recover more.'

Arsenal's league run has been marred by their FA Cup and Champions League exits and defeat in the North London derby, but Tottenham and Chelsea's exploits in the knock-out competitions have provided a little window of opportunity for Wenger's side.

Early bath: Per Mertesacker was shown a red card for hauling down Shane Long in the penalty area

Early bath: Per Mertesacker was shown a red card for hauling down Shane Long in the penalty area

Early bath: Per Mertesacker was shown a red card for hauling down Shane Long in the penalty area

Chelsea's FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City means their Premier League clash with Spurs at Stamford Bridge on April 14 has been postponed.

Arsenal will therefore contest two home games – against Norwich and Everton – before their main rivals for a Champions League spot play in the league again.

Chelsea and Spurs also, of course, have Europa League quarter-finals to consider. The scorer of both Arsenal goals in Saturday’s 2-1 win, Tomas Rosicky said: 'I hope that will happen (and we will take advantage).'

Gap: Arsenal are two points behind Tottenham with a game in hand after their rivals drew 2-2 with Everton on Sunday

Gap: Arsenal are two points behind Tottenham with a game in hand after their rivals drew 2-2 with Everton on Sunday

'We've got two home games which we've got to win if we're talking about fourth or third place. Our home form has to improve.

'But when you get a good run of results the confidence returns. Every day you have to be prepared 100 per cent to come to training and fight for your club.

'Sometimes it's not easy when you see and hear what is going on around. That's what you've got to do.

'We're in a position where we just need to concentrate on ourselves. Sometimes it is tricky to be saying where are Tottenham playing and when are Chelsea playing. It's important to just concentrate on ourselves and what we're producing.'

.epl_container,.epl_top_container, .spon_left, .spon_right, .epl_cleardisplay:block;margin:0px;padding:0px;min-height:0px;font-size:0px;border:0px;white-space:nowrap;
.epl_containerbackground-color:#000000;
.epl_top_containerbackground:#F9F9F9 url(http://l.yimg.com/i/i/uk/any/e/bkg.jpg) repeat-x scroll top;
.spon_leftwidth:140px;float:left;height:60px;overflow:hidden;background:#000000 url(http://l.yimg.com/i/i/uk/any/e/ylogo.jpg) no-repeat;
.spon_rightwidth:160px;float:right;height:60px;overflow:hidden;background:#000000 url(http://l.yimg.com/i/i/uk/any/e/right.jpg) no-repeat;
.epl_clearclear:both;