Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has stated his belief that his players must maintain the spirit they displayed against Bayern Munich and Swansea until the end of the season.
The Gunners have enjoyed an uplifting week after a disastrous period in which the club lost any chance of securing some overdue silverware and lost a crucial game to arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
They travelled to Bayern Munich and put on a brave display with a 2-0 win in the second leg of the Champions League tie and just fell short of progressing to the quarter-finals because of the away-goal rule.
However, it seems that the victory over the Germans had reinstalled some confidence in the Gunners' ranks as they travelled to Swansea three days later and kept another clean sheet with a 2-0 win over the Welsh club.
Wenger was ecstatic as his side showed fighting spirit and a desire to win, and he said they must uphold it and continue in the same mode for the remaining nine games.
“We dug in even when the legs were heavy,” Wenger told the Arsenal website. “You could see Santi Cazorla, for example, was exhausted in the last 20 minutes but he still kept going and overall I am very pleased with the spirit we have shown and the solidarity we have shown.
“I have had some great teams but for any team to go to Bayern and come to Swansea and win 2-0 - two places where it is difficult to keep a clean sheet... you need something special, especially in four days.”
Nacho Monreal scored his first goal for the Gunners while Gervinho added the second goal in stoppage-time to seal the victory.
“I always said that it is more down to belief because the solidarity and the commitment is there - I see that every day,” the Frenchman added.
The fact that two rivals for a top-four spot both lost over the weekend will add to Arsenal’s good spirit. Tottenham lost 1-0 to Fulham at White Hart Lane while Liverpool travelled to Southampton and received a 3-1 drubbing.
Arsenal are now four points behind Spurs with a game in hand. The north London outfit will also be encouraged by Spurs having to face tough opponents in their next four fixtures as they’ll have to deal with Swansea, Everton, Chelsea and Manchester City.
Having played one game more than Arsenal, Liverpool trail the Gunners by five points and have also been overtaken by their bitter rivals Everton after the weekend as the Toffees put on an impressive performance in the 2-0 win over title-defenders Man City and now seem a more likely top-four contender than Liverpool.
If Arsenal can keep up the improved defensive mentality and fighting spirit, the race for the top four may be a very tightly contested one.
“We are ready for a fight on what we have shown today," Wenger said after the victory over Swansea. "Let’s keep that high because they are qualities that will be needed until the last day of the Premier League season.”
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