Wenger: Arsenal are over RVP loss

Arsene Wenger feels that Arsenal have finally emerged from the shadow of Robin van Persie as they look to secure a Champions League spot with a win at Newcastle.

Arsenal vs Bayern Munich: Arsene Wenger

The Gunners have endured more than their fair share of critics over the course of the campaign, which at one stage saw them drop as low as 10th place and then seemingly pushed out of top-four contention when losing at Tottenham on March 3.

However, a superb run of form since, kickstarted by beating Bayern Munich in the Allianz Arena, has hauled Wenger's side back above Spurs and Arsenal could yet even snatch third place from Chelsea should other results go their way.

Wenger feels it is testament to the strength of character of a squad which was rebuilt around Lukas Podolski, Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud following the acrimonious departure of captain Van Persie to Manchester United for £24million.

"This team suffered for a very long time from a lack of confidence because you take the talisman away - Robin van Persie - and get the new players in, then you lose the first big games and suddenly we are faced with skepticism around the team. You could see that," the Arsenal manager said.

"That was the problem and balancing the team took a while, to find a formula to have a good balance in the team. Since this has been back, we have been very efficient.

"The Bayern Munich away game was very important, you could feel after that we could do it, that helped.

"I never felt this team lacked focus or desire to do well, but we lacked confidence for a while."

Wenger added: "The resources are there mentally and physically.

"We have played for a long time under pressure now, so let's just finish the job."

That Arsenal are now in the driving seat to secure at least fourth spot is more remarkable from the scenario facing them after the 2-0 loss at White Hart Lane, which Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas believed would push the Gunners into a "negative spiral".

"It is a big comeback," said Wenger, who side rallied to beat FA Cup winners Wigan 4-1 with a second-half onslaught in midweek.

"You cannot say Tottenham have not done well recently because they won their games.

"We needed not to lose a game anymore nearly.

"However, the only advantage we have is that our fate depends on our result.

"We don't look at Tottenham. I am not concerned by that. It's just 'let us win the game'."

Were Arsenal to secure Champions League football once again for a 16th consecutive season - with the possibility of either a play-off against Chelsea for third or a two-legged qualifying tie in August still possibilities - it would certainly enhance their summer transfer plans, which included bringing France under-21 forward Yaya Sanogo from Auxerre on a free transfer.

Wenger, though, insists it is not just all about bragging rights or the balance sheet.

"What is at stake is a desire to stay at the top. To play top-level European football," he said.

"There is a difference between the Champions League and Europa League. Why? Because the Champions League plays with the best teams in Europe, that is what we want to do.

"The financial consequences are big, yes, but that is not the most important thing for me."

Wenger added: "It is easier to attract the players - top, top, top players - if you play in Champions League, but that is part of the rule of the market.

"Anyway we have a good team and we will attract one or two players that we want no matter what happens, for us we just want to be with the best."

Wenger added: "At the moment with what happened to us (at the end of) last season we now have 70 points - we made 70 last year and we can beat that, so let's do it."



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