• Premier League

Wenger warning for Arsenal

ESPN staff
April 29, 2013
Arsene Wenger is backing his side to secure a top-four spot © Getty Images

Arsene Wenger has denied Arsenal let their Champions League hopes fade after being held to a 1-1 draw by Manchester United on Sunday.

The Gunners slipped to fourth place following the result, with Chelsea and Tottenham, who sit either side of Wenger's side, yet to play their rescheduled fixture.

Theo Walcott's early opener was cancelled out shortly before half-time by former Arsenal striker Robin van Persie, who netted from the penalty spot.

Wenger admits Van Persie's goal, amidst a torrent of abuse from the home fans towards the Dutchman, made it difficult for Arsenal to regain momentum. But the manager is "convinced" his side will play Champions League football next season.

"I think that equaliser played a big part in this game because it put us in a difficult position," he said. "We had to open ourselves completely up and put everything forward and sometimes a little bit more with energy than with technique. We opened ourselves up for counterattack where we could have lost the game.

"Sagna is very disappointed. He is a player who gives absolutely everything in every game and I think he made a bad pass that can happen and maybe after, he panicked a bit because he maybe wanted to repair too quickly what he did. He had time to tackle but he has saved us so many times. It was unfortunate that it happened today.

"If we win our games, it will be enough and I'm convinced we will be there. There is no room for dropping points but the other teams are in the same position. We know we cannot drop points."

Van Persie stole the headlines on his return to the Emirates, showing no effects from the jeers of fans who had previously adored him.

He was welcomed into the Arsenal dressing room following the match, although Wenger left a parting jibe for the 29-year-old.

"I don't think he scored," Wenger said. "He scored a penalty. It counts but it's not completely the same. When you buy a goalscorer, you always look at how many goals he has scored with penalties and how many he scored in open play. But he took his penalty very well. I know when he decided to take the penalty that it was 80% he scores. He was our penalty taker. He does that very well. He does a lot of things very well.

"He was in our dressing room [after the match] because the food is better in our dressing room than their dressing room. We are rivals [with United] but at the end of the day, we decided to sell him. You want us to make a guard of honour and to respect the champions but you have to accept as well that respect exists after the game. You want to give absolutely everything for the 90 minutes and, after the game, you can still talk to each other."

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