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Wenger focused only on Brum battle

26 Mar 2010 07:32:46

Wenger focused only on Brum battle

Before the small matter of contemplating how to get the better of Lionel Messi and former captain Thierry Henry in the Champions League quarter-final first leg, Wenger's squad must come through another test of their Premeir League title credentials at St Andrew's. A run of six successive league victories has hauled Arsenal right back into contention, although they now sit back down in third following Chelsea's resounding 5-0 win at bottom club Portsmouth. With only two points separating the top three sides, but Arsenal with an inferior goal difference, Wenger knows there can be no room for error or failing to focus on the job at hand. "I believe my players are very intelligent and if we were distracted it would mean we were not - the best way to prepare for Barcelona is to win the game before," said Wenger. "We have fought like mad until now to be in the position we are in. "It is 10 months of preparation, fight and work to be where we are in the championship so we want to take advantage of that and win the Birmingham game." Arsenal return to St Andrew's on Saturday for the first time since the horrific injury which threatened the career of striker Eduardo. The Croatia international was sidelined for the best part of a year after being left with a broken leg and dislocated ankle following an X-rated challenge by Blues defender Martin Taylor during February 2008. Eduardo has, though, shown a great deal of character to recover and return to the Gunners first team, with six goals this season having been mostly used as a substitute. Wenger accepts this weekend may bring back some painful memories for the 27-year-old, but backed the Brazil-born forward to deliver the perfect response. "It will certainly have a weight in his mind," the Arsenal manager said. "That is part of a career as well, to show you have that mental strength to deal with those kind of situations and Eduardo has a lot of mental strength - he can deal with that. "Overall we want him to come back there and just win our game, that is the only way you can deal with that situation." Wenger continued: "It is like you drive the same way every day in your car - one day you have an accident; afterwards, you cannot just not go through this way anymore. You have to live with it. Life goes on. "It is only once in the 1000 times he played which he had an accident. It happened at Birmingham, but could have happened somewhere else." The title challenge of Wenger's young side never really recovered from the events at St Andrew's, where Birmingham secured a 2-2 draw with a controversial last-minute penalty and then captain William Gallas broke down as emotions ran high. The Gunners boss, however, maintains the squad is now much stronger and feels the way they responded to the loss of Aaron Ramsey to a double broken leg by going on to win at Stoke is testament to their character. "We did not deal well with that particular incident on the day, with the situation we faced," Wenger recalled, "but since then exactly the same happened at Stoke, and we responded in a very strong manner." Arsenal will be without suspended defender Thomas Vermaelen, so former United centre-back Mikael Silvestre is set to partner veteran Sol Campbell. Birmingham v Arsenal Winning Margin: Arsenal by Exactly 2 Goals 7/2


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