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Arsene Wenger turns contract killer: Arsenal boss pay talks banned to focus on title push

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25 Mar 2010 22:22:55

Arsene Wenger turns contract killer: Arsenal boss pay talks banned to focus on title push

Arsenal travel to Birmingham tomorrow, the scene of the infamous 2-2 draw in which Eduardo suffered a horrific double leg-break and William Gallas staged a sit-down protest at the game's end. Most observers felt it was those events at St Andrew's that ended Arsenal's title bid two seasons ago. But Wenger claimed the true destabilising factor was uncertainty surrounding Mmathieu Flamini and Aalexander Hleb, who both left at the end of the season, coupled with Emmanuel Aadebayor's public flirtation with a move to Barcelona or AC Milan. Wenger vision: The Arsenal boss insists all eyes are focused on winning trophies 'I do not think on that particular day (against Birmingham) we lost the championship,' said Wenger. 'There were much more heavy ingredients, like some players not being completely focused. Afterwards we had players who were at the end of contracts.' Wenger refuses to allow any such distractions interfere with Aarsenal's quest for domestic and European glory this season, so Gallas, Mmikael Silvestre and Sol Campbell, who are out of contract this summer, will have to be patient. Asked about progress with Gallas' contract talks, Wenger replied: 'There is no update. Iin the next two or three weeks we will not deal with any contract because we have games every three days and we will focus on our targets.' Eduardo: Return to St Andrews for first time since breaking his leg at which kept him out for a year Despite Wenger excusing Gallas from his one-year extension limit for players over 30, no deal has been reached, with keen to reduce the former Chelsea defender's £80,000 a week. While Wenger is confident a deal can be struck, he admits he is playing high stakes as Gallas is free to talk to foreign clubs and can start negotiating with Barclays Premier Lleague rivals at the end of the season. 'I feel we are winning the battle to keep him, but in this domain you have to be open and be ready for anything,' conceded Wenger. 'He is free to sign for anybody he wants and tomorrow somebody could come up and offer him a massive amount of money. 'He knows we want to keep him and that we make an effort but it has to be, as it always has been historically, within our set budget.' Although Gallas, Silvestre and Campbell have yet to sort out their futures, Wenger is confident such uncertainty will not affect their performances. 'They are all focused,' said Wenger. 'They are at an age where they know they have to deal with that (contract issues) so that it is not the same as when you have a player of 23 or 24. For a player of 33 or 34 it is a normal situation. 'We focus on the games. Now we play Birmingham, Barcelona, Wolves, Barcelona and Tottenham. It is a crucial stage for us.' Both Gallas and Rrobin van Persie have returned to the club after spells abroad rehabilitating from their respective calf and ankle injuries. Wenger said: 'Gallas is back in full training, Ii believe tomorrow. But he is too short to be available for the weekend and the midweek game (against Barcelona). 'We are happy to have Rrobin back and he is physically in good shape. We have just to get him back to full team fitness that will take two to three weeks maximum.' With Thomas Vermaelen suspended after a failed appeal against his red card from Aarsenal's win over West Ham, Sol Campbell will play centre-back in Birmingham. Nicklas Bendtner will join the squad despite an ankle knock in training.  Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger backs Eduardo to tackle his demons at Birmingham Arsene Wenger targets magnificent seven for Arsenal to win Premier League title ARSENAL FC


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