Arsene Wenger likens Arsenal's return to form to a rallying boxer as he warns Spurs over their future

Ed Malyon
The Independent
Wenger had a warning for Spurs and praised his side's recent uptick in form: Getty
Wenger had a warning for Spurs and praised his side's recent uptick in form: Getty

Like Anthony Joshua, downed and bloodied in north London but rallying to victory, Arsene Wenger delved into his sporting analogies to describe a troubled season that is on the turn - but that will be tested to its fullest by Arsenal’s north London rivals in Sunday's derby.

A derby day date with destiny awaits the Frenchman and his side. Win, and continue their return to form, and the Champions League is within sight. Lose, and Spurs will deliver the knockout blow and finish above their neighbours for the first time in Wenger’s reign.

“For a while we were bit like a boxer who got put on the floor twice,” he said.

“We lost a little bit and people interpreted that as them not caring. No. Maybe it's because they care very much that we were like that - shocked. We were shocked.”

But there has been a turnaround at Arsenal, who have won three out of four games in April since drawing with Manchester City, a change in results and attitude that Wenger described as “quite special.”

“You look at the numbers, we are the team that has scored more goals than anyboy else in the final part of the game.

“We have the highest number, by far, to have scored in the final 10 minute of the game, more than anybody else in this league. The players who came on contributed more than in any other team.

Twin humiliations to Bayern damaged Arsenal's confidence (Bongarts/Getty Images)
Twin humiliations to Bayern damaged Arsenal's confidence (Bongarts/Getty Images)

“It's true that for a while, the first Bayern game and Chelsea game was a big knock.”

And the results bear that out. Arsenal lost six games out of nine in a rocky spring period, crashing out of the Champions League and sliding out of the Premier League’s top four.

“The turning point is that you have to revolt and say 'Come on, that cannot go on'.

“There's a good atmosphere compared to one or two months ago,” Wenger adds of the fans, and the contingent making the short trip across north London will be fervently backing their manager - despite the obvious divides over his leadership - as they look to win the final derby at White Hart Lane.

While that would land a (likely fatal) blow to Tottenham’s title chances, Wenger was looking to land a more significant right hook on his club’s local rivals.

The mood has taken a positive turn at Arsenal (Getty)
The mood has taken a positive turn at Arsenal (Getty)

The Arsenal boss for years was limited by the costs of building the Emirates Stadium. He turned Arsenal into a super club but it came at a cost, and he negotiated those financial obstacles well - though his critics feel he is now underachieving given the Gunners’ revenue and resources.

When asked how Tottenham will cope with the same problem after moving to their new stadium in 2018, Wenger warned that things will not be all sunshine and rainbows, despite the shift into a purpose-built, modern arena more befitting a club of Spurs’ increasing profile.

“For a longer time if the budget is too much difference it’s impossible. The best players at some stage when you get to a level the players want to be paid like the other players at that level.

“If the differential is too big, you’re never able to keep your best players.”

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