Wenger prepared for 17 cup finals to overhaul Chelsea

The Arsenal manager admits every Premier League fixture from this point will take on added importance as his side chase down the top-flight title

Arsenal face 17 cup finals in their bid to overhaul Chelsea and lift the Premier League title this season, according to Arsene Wenger.

Defeats to Everton and Manchester City in December saw the Gunners fall off the pace at the top of the table as Chelsea racked up 13 successive victories.

Wenger warns Chinese Super League

Wenger’s side quickly re-found the winning formula, however, and go into this weekend’s clash with Burnley unbeaten in their last four.

Getting past Antonio Conte’s side – who are eight points ahead – before the end of the campaign will take a huge effort from the Arsenal squad, and Wenger intends to treat all the remaining games as must-win matches.

“For us every game is a cup final,” he told a media conference.

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“Yes, I see it that way as Chelsea is ahead and everyone else is fighting.

“So it is important first of all to try to make a distance with the teams around you, take advantage of points they could drop and try to get closer to Chelsea. You never know.”

Alexis Sanchez can be an Arsenal role model – Xhaka

The Swiss midfielder praised the forward’s desire, both in training and in matches, and has talked up the importance of the club’s next three games

Granit Xhaka has hailed Alexis Sanchez’s positive influence at Arsenal and feels the Chile international is a role model for the club’s youngsters with his impressive work rate.

Sanchez has been in sublime form this campaign, scoring 16 goals in 27 appearances in all competitions, but was recently criticised for failing to keep his emotion in check after the 3-3 draw with Bournemouth and following his substitution against Swansea City.

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However, Xhaka is adamant the former Barcelona man’s attitude should serve as an example to others.

“I think Alexis can be a good role model, because he always pushes himself to his limits, no matter if it is in training or in a match,” Xhaka told the official Arsenal website.

“He can be a good role model for the young players.”

Sanchez’s good form has helped keep Arsenal’s Premier League title chances alive, with Xhaka highlighting the forthcoming games against Burnley, Watford and Chelsea as being potentially season-defining.

“I think the next three games could tell a lot about what sort of direction we will go in this season,” Xhaka added.

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“We noticed already in the first game that it was really tough at their place [Burnley]. We needed a late goal to win. They play direct, they are compact defensively as well and that makes it difficult. But we are playing at home and we need the three points.

“Against these sort of teams, it is very important to score as early as possible and as many times as possible. That puts them under pressure, it makes them come out a bit more as well. We want to start positively, we want to force mistakes and if we do that, I am sure we can win this game.”

It will take years to build football culture, Wenger warns CSL

The Arsenal manager is happy to see the sport’s expansion, but is adamant the game’s growth in China will not be an overnight success

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has insisted it will take years for the Chinese Super League to create a football culture.

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The CSL has dominated the headlines following the big-money arrivals of Oscar, Carlos Tevez and Axel Witsel, and more star names continue to be linked with moves to China.

China is also home to Hulk, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Ramires, Alex Teixeira and head coach Andre Villas-Boas, among others.

Wenger has praised the growth of Chinese football but the Frenchman, who arrived at Arsenal from Japanese outfit Nagoya Grampus in 1996, said it will take time to compete with the Premier League.

“You do not create a top league overnight, it demands years of hard work and culture,” Wenger said. “Professional football in England was created 150 years ago but we still struggle!

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“I believe it’s a slow process of creating a football culture. Football is quite strange because you are educated as a little boy, you hear about football from your parents and you give that to the next generation. That takes time to be a part of the population.

“In China, it’s new. I know that well because when I went to Japan it was 1995, and the professional league was created in 1993 so it was the third year of professional football in Japan. You expect reflexes from people who are not there, who are not used to the culture of professional football.

“It will take time, and even then we do not know if China will still do it in 10 years. Sometimes it’s a political decision which can change. I personally am very happy and I expect India to come to the game. I hope it will happen.”

Adebayor: Arsenal nothing without Alexis and Ozil

The Gunners are in serious trouble should one of their stars pick up an injury, according to their former striker, who also praised rivals Tottenham

Former Arsenal forward Emmanuel Adebayor believes the Gunners “would be nothing” without star pairing Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil.

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The attacking duo have been responsible for 19 goals and 10 assists in the Premier League this season, but have both been linked with a move away from the Emirates Stadium in recent months.

Alexis, rumoured to be on the radar of a number of Chinese Super League sides, as well as Inter and Juventus in Serie A, has just 18 months left of his Arsenal contract.

Ozil is tied to the club for the same period of time, though both are reportedly in discussions to extend their respective stays.

And while the duo are said to be happy in north London, they have called for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger to sign a new deal at the club before a decision is made.

Adebayor, who scored 62 goals in his 142 appearances for the Gunners, believes that the club are nothing but a two-man team and will be in big trouble should either of their stars pick up an injury.

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“Arsenal have a good team but if Sánchez gets injured I don’t know who they’ve got,” Adebayor told The Guardian.

“If you look at Chelsea, when Hazard gets injured they’ve got Willian; if Willian gets injured they can still play Moses further forward.

“Arsenal’s problem is that today they are just Ozil and Sanchez. If one of them gets injured, it is a problem.”

Arsenal sit fourth in the Premier League after 21 games, eight points behind table-topping Chelsea and one point adrift of north London rivals Tottenham.

Tottenham striker Emmanuel Adebayor

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Adebayor, who also played for Spurs, insists his former club is in the perfect hands in Pochettino, who he remains in contact with.

“I’m happy for Pochettino and how they are doing,” he said. “Things didn’t work out between us but he is a great manager and we still have a good relationship despite what people might think.

“We still keep in touch – he is a good guy and has changed Tottenham. I don’t know whether the fans there hate me or love me but they should remember one thing, which is that there was a time when I scored goals for them and made them happy.”

Goal.com's Ultimate XI: The full lineup

Ronaldo, Messi, Buffon, and others. The fans said their word and put their faith in those great 11 players to feature in our Goal.com Ultimate XI

Here it is, the full lineup for Goal.com’s Ultimate XI.

The polls that were conducted in partnership with FIFA 17 have unfolded, and the fans have been the judges and chose those 11 amazing footballers to represent their favorite players in each position in the game.

Juventus’ veteran Gianluigi Buffon was chosen by the fans as their ‘Numero Uno’ in the Goal.com Ultimate XI.

The defense line was dominated by the Real Madrid, as Marcelo won the fans’ trust as the best LB, Dani Carvajal was chosen in RB, and Sergio Ramos was voted the best in CB position.

Protecting the defense line sits Bayern München’s Xabi Alonso, who was voted as the DMF to feature in Goal.com’s Ultimate XI.

The fans voted for Real Madrid’s Luka Modric and Andres Iniesta of Barcelona, as the best right and left midfielders respectively, sitting behind Arsenal’s German playmaker, Mesut Ozil.

The frontline consists of three huge names in the world of football, with Barcelona’s talisman Lionel Messi, and Real Madrid’s goal-getter Cristiano Ronaldo as right and left wingers, sitting on the sides of the fans favorite striker, Luis Suarez of Barcelona.

Goal.com Ultimate XI - FIFA 17 Polls