EPL

William Saliba knows Arsenal cannot afford to drop any more points in title race

By Sports Desk April 21, 2024

Defender William Saliba knows Arsenal have to win their remaining five Premier League games if they are going to become champions.

The Gunners returned to the top of the table after a 2-0 win at Wolves on Saturday night and are now level on points with Liverpool following their win at Fulham on Sunday.

Both sides could move further ahead of Manchester City, who were in FA Cup semi-final action on Saturday and do not play in the league until Thursday night – by which point they will have two games in hand.

The Gunners could move four points clear of City if they beat Chelsea on Tuesday night and with games against Tottenham, Bournemouth, Manchester United and Everton to come, Saliba says Arsenal cannot afford to drop any more points.

“Of course, anything can happen in the last five games,” the defender said.

“If we want something at the end we have to win. It will be very tough because we are so close to Liverpool and City but we started well today and we have to keep going.

“If we want to put pressure on, we have to win, to win and keep going like this. We know it will be hard but we are prepared.”

The victory at Molineux, secured by goals from Leandro Trossard and Martin Odegaard, was a good response to a difficult week for Arsenal following back-to-back defeats against Aston Villa and Bayern Munich.

“We know it’s really hard to come back after the two last games because we lost but we knew how important this game was,” he said.

“We came back with a win and a clean sheet. We are happy and we have to keep going like this. We have good experience from last year and this season too.

“We know it can be up and down very quickly so we are well prepared.”

Wolves are crippled by injuries, with all of their main attacking options ruled out or not fit enough to start.

But boss Gary O’Neil said Pablo Sarabia and Mario Lemina, who came off the bench against the Gunners, should be able to start against Bournemouth on Wednesday.

“I was trying to pick a team with the rest of the week in mind, trying to juggle it with just 10 available that can complete 90 minutes,” he said.

“It was a tough call but we felt we’d be able to produce that high-energy performance and get a couple of them a bit of a rest.

“Pablo’s groin settled down even further and hopefully it will do them both good not to have gone through 90 minutes and they will be feeling a bit better come Wednesday.”

Related items

  • 'Maybe we can change that' - De Roon believes Atalanta can end Leverkusen unbeaten run 'Maybe we can change that' - De Roon believes Atalanta can end Leverkusen unbeaten run

    Atalanta captain Marten de Roon believes they have what it takes to end Bayer Leverkusen’s unbeaten season in the Europa League final.

    De Roon will not be available for La Dea in Dublin on Wednesday due to injury but has joined up with the squad to offer his support.

    Atalanta have had a memorable campaign, reaching their first European final and qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

    Leverkusen, meanwhile, claimed their first-ever Bundesliga title without losing a single game and are aiming to complete a treble.

    Despite coming up against a tough opponent, De Roon is confident that his side will be able to end their 61-year drought without a major trophy.

    "Every team is beatable. At the moment, [Leverkusen] seem unbeatable, but maybe we are the ones who can change that," he said in the pre-match press conference.

    "We have to believe in our philosophy, play attacking football and try to beat them. You don't win a trophy if you don't beat the best.

    "We have had a great campaign, and we fully deserve to be here. Both sides deserve to be playing this final. Let's see who will manage to lift the trophy.

    Atalanta narrowly missed out in the Coppa Italia final to Juventus earlier this month, and Gian Piero Gasperini is now preparing to manage his first-ever European final.

    The Italian praised Leverkusen but stressed the belief he has in his own team after an impressive campaign.

    He said: "We are aware that we are facing a great team. We know that they are undefeated, and we know that they have had an amazing season.

    "Our journey, however, was also very good as we beat very strong teams to reach the final, and we also have belief.

    "Leverkusen are a complete team; extremely organised. They are versatile, they can defend and recover the ball well.

    "The results they have achieved this season are not an accident. Certainly, small details can make the difference in a final. We have to respect them and try to adapt quickly to the opponents we are facing."

  • Alonso: Self-confidence is driving Leverkusen forward Alonso: Self-confidence is driving Leverkusen forward

    Xabi Alonso says Bayer Leverkusen are driven by self-confidence in their ability to win games ahead of the Europa League final.

    Leverkusen are chasing the second trophy in a potential treble against Atalanta in Dublin on Wednesday, with the DFB-Pokal final against Kaiserslautern to follow on Saturday.

    The Bundesliga champions became the first German team to go unbeaten on their way to the title and are currently on a 51-match run without defeat in all competitions.

    Alonso is taking charge of his first European final as a manager, but he believes his team will draw on the experience they have already gained this season.

    "Our self-confidence keeps driving us on. We know that we can produce goals until the final minute," he said in his pre-match press conference. "That's a huge development that the team has made this season.

    "From the start of the campaign, we believed in our brand of football and that's right at the heart of this successful run.

    "We'll prepare like we did for all the games before. We haven't lost in 51 games, so my boys know how to adapt to different situations. That also applies to the final.

    "What matters above all tomorrow is mentality. We have a game plan, but the players still have that wonderful atmosphere from the title celebrations on Saturday, and we want to tap into that."

    Alonso is the youngest coach to manage a men’s European final since Roberto Di Matteo oversaw Chelsea’s Champions League victory in 2012.

    He will also become just the fourth person to play in and manage a major European final this century after also playing in the 2005 and 2007 Champions League finals with Liverpool.

    Reflecting on his time at Leverkusen, Alonso said: "I was so young in this coach career, so when I was offered the Leverkusen job, so it was 'let's go, let's see what happens'.

    "In one year and a half, so much has happened; it has been a great experience, and it has only been a year and a half, but we have made so many right decisions.

    "I think we have great chemistry.  The mentality we have shown throughout the year has been fantastic. I am really enjoying it."

  • Liverpool have to expect change under Slot, says Zenden Liverpool have to expect change under Slot, says Zenden

    Former Liverpool midfielder Boudewijn Zenden admits there will be a change for the Reds under Arne Slot but says the club should be ready to buy into his philosophy.

    Liverpool confirmed on Monday that Slot would take over from Jurgen Klopp, who managed his final game at Anfield against Wolves on Sunday.

    The Dutchman had already announced that he would be taking the job in a press conference, with Klopp then leading a chant of Slot’s name in his farewell speech.

    Slot has reportedly signed a three-year deal and will officially take charge from June 1.

    Asked if the former Feyenoord manager can avoid a painful transition when he begins his new job, Zenden said Liverpool need to be prepared for any outcome.

    "Well, let's put it this way. Someone said life is like a box of chocolates, you know, you never know what you're going to get until it's there, and it's the same with Slot," he told Stats Perform.

    "You know, there's going to be a change. You never know what the change will be like. As I said, there will be a change, that's for sure.

    "For example, if you look at Arsenal, what I admire about the Arsenal people in charge is that the beginning of Arteta at Arsenal. I'm sure you remember well, it was painful for the fans, for the people that had the love for the Gunners.

    "They stuck to Arteta, they stuck to his vision, his way of playing, and gradually the team that he built, with his philosophy and the players that he took in, that go with that philosophy.

    "For me, it's a huge pleasure to see that if you stick to someone, if you stick to the manager, and you're convinced of his ideas, that you see where this will get you.

    "There will be a change. Am I afraid? Well, of course, I'm not afraid, concerned, no, I think you have to just live with it.

    "I'm sure in Liverpool, they'll keep their head up high when they go through that storm if it's there. But no, it's going to be a change, of course, but when Slot takes over, I hope that it'll go down well."

    Slot led Feyenoord to the Eredivisie title in 2023 and was named Eredivisie Manager of the Year on two occasions, while also winning the KNVB Beker this season.

    While some have questioned if Slot will be able to deal with the big stars at the club, Zenden does not believe that will be a problem.

    "Yeah, but listen, it is what it is. Of course, Feyenoord this is nowhere near the magnitude of Liverpool. Feyenoord is a big club, but Liverpool is a massive club. So, there's certainly the expectations that come with the club," he added.

    "Also, when you are in a big club, there are big players with big egos and I think what could help Slot as well is that he used to play himself.

    "He knows what's happening in the mind of a player, he knows what happens in the dressing room. So, he knows a little bit about how these things can be done can work out how it works out, but it definitely will be interesting to see how he deals with these different situations.

    "I think Jurgen Klopp over the years also had a few, I'm not going say run-ins, but of course, there's been issues, but they've all been solved and taken care of, one or the other."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.