Wenger hails vital Fulham win

21 April 2013 01:41
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger believes his side picked up a "vital" three points in their quest for a top-four finish against Fulham on Saturday. With Chelsea and Tottenham not in action until Sunday, the Gunners were out to edge themselves back in front in the race for Champions League qualification in the Premier League. However, the Cottagers were somewhat unfortunate not to earn a share of the spoils after responding superbly to the dismissal of midfielder Steve Sidwell - just back from a three-match ban - inside 15 minutes, shown a straight red card by referee Andre Marriner for wiping out Mikel Arteta. Per Mertesacker's close-range header put Arsenal into the lead just before the break, but the visitors - who had won four of their previous five league games - failed to find second gear as the hosts rallied. Fulham thought they had equalised on 75 minutes when Stanislav Manolev stabbed the loose ball home after Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, in for the injured Lukasz Fabianski, fumbled Kieran Richardson's free-kick - only for assistant referee Sian Massey to make a well-spotted marginal offside call. While there may have been no grandstand finale, despite Fulham's best efforts, there was still time for some more controversy as Marriner brandished his red card once again after Olivier Giroud had jumped in on Manolev, although replays showed some contact with the ball. Having collected 16 out of a possible 18 points since they were beaten at Spurs, Wenger expects nothing other than 100 per cent focus over their remaining four games - starting with the visit of champions-elect Manchester United next weekend. "We have to wait to see how significant the three points will be, but it is a vital three points," Wenger told reporters. "We have one thing to do and that is for us to win our games, which is all we can do. "Our target is to win all our remaining games and we did that here. "Fulham is a difficult place to come for us and you could see that in the final 10 minutes, we suffered a little bit because we couldn't score the second goal. "But we are on a very strong run at the moment and we have to maintain it, if we can do that, then we will get there." Wenger added: "Now we go into the next game and focus on winning that - the next game we know will be Manchester United, so it is a good challenge for us." Arsenal could yet look to review Giroud's dismissal, as the France striker is otherwise now set for an automatic three-match suspension. "Giroud told me he did slip and went a bit over the ball," said Wenger. "Knowing that Sidwell had been sent off, when the referee went to see him, we knew it would be a red card. "We will have to deal with that now because he will miss three games and that is not easy for us to cope with." Wenger indicated he felt there could be mitigating circumstances, adding: "Nobody would say Giroud is a dirty player, it is purely accidental, but sometimes accidental can be dangerous."

Source: team_talk

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