Wenger targets title tilt
Arsene Wenger is confident Arsenal will 'have a word to say' in the title race next season. The Gunners finished just four points behind Premier League champions Manchester United last term but the current campaign has been more disappointing. The gap has widened and Arsenal will finish fourth, while there has been criticism of Wenger in recent weeks and speculation that he could leave Emirates Stadium. The French tactician has insisted he remains committed to the club and he is looking forward to challenging for top spot again. He claims his side has progressed over the past 12 months and will be even stronger next season. "We were in the Champions League final in 2006, the quarter-final last year and the semi-final this year. Last year we nearly won the [Premier League] championship, this year we did not - but we have not stood still in the last four years like many people have suggested," Wenger said. "I know bigger clubs who have gone out in the last 16 of the Champions League in the last five years. "The level of competition is very high in England, but I believe we will have a word to say next season." Wenger has every faith in his young players, adding: "If you are a top player, when you are 23, then you normally start to perform at the level of the Champions League - these players have 40 or 50 Champions League games at 22 years old. They are much ahead of the programme here." Arsenal face Stoke on Sunday in their final game of the season and Wenger is keen to exact revenge for November's 2-1 defeat at the Britannia Stadium. He said: "We lost the game at Stoke because we did not deal well with their strong points. "I believe on one or two occasions I saw tackles that were not quite clear - but on the day they were well organised, defended very well and took advantage of what they are strong at which is their throw-ins and their set pieces." "We are ready. What people do not realise is how much this team has improved. "Since November in the championship we have lost just one game, which for me was more down to the disappointment of the Champions League exit. "We have a good opportunity to show how much we have improved against Stoke."
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