Arsene Wenger praises Steven Gerrard and avoids talking about Raheem Sterling as Arsenal prepare to face Liverpool in a key match to decide the European ambitions of both clubs this season.
LONDON COLNEY, NEAR LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (APRIL 2, 2015) (ITN) – Arsenal face Liverpool at home on Saturday (April 4) in a English Premier league match that can define the aspirations of both teams to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Arsenal are in third place on 60 points and could close the gap with leaders Chelsea to four if they beat their Merseyside opponents who are fifth on 54 points.
“It is a big game and an opportunity for us to continue our run, that is what we want to do,” Wenger told reporters on Thursday (April 2)
“We are on a strong run and we just want to focus to win our games, win the next one and Liverpool is a big opponent but we play at the Emirates and we want to do it.”
Wenger was asked about a possible interest in Liverpool’s young star Raheem Sterling who is in contract negotiations with his club but the Frenchman said it was not the right moment to discuss a possible move for the 20-year-old.
“Well, Raheem Sterling is a top player and I think everybody knows that in the country now and he is an important player for Liverpool of course,” he said.
Wenger reaped praise on Liverpool legendary captain Steven Gerrard who is suspended for the game against Liverpool but could face Arsenal if both teams reach the final of the FA Cup.
“When Liverpool was in trouble everyone look at Steven Gerrard – ‘do something for us’ – and you can say that nine times out of 10 he did it and he is a huge player,” he said about the 34 year-old who will be moving to play for the MLS outfit Los Angeles Galaxy at the end of the English season.
“And I think what I like as well, what you don’t see any more a lot he has shown great loyalty through the whole career he played at Liverpool and it is very difficult to see (that) now because he had the calibre to play anywhere in any big club and remained loyal and faithful to Liverpool and I have a big respect for that.”
Chelsea are strong favourites to finish as champions for the first time since 2010 as they lead with 67 points, six clear of Manchester City with a match in hand.
Arsenal are a point further back after winning nine of their last 10, while United, fourth on 59, have also been in excellent form, winning their last four including a 2-1 win at Liverpool.
Wenger reiterated that a win against Liverpool will be a huge step to seal at least fourth place and a chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League but admitted that even a fight for the title against Chelsea could still be on the cards.
“This result can put us in a strong position with regards to our prime objective and after that we can look at higher objectives, so it is important (to get a positive result against Liverpool),” he said.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remains unavailable because of injury but striker Danny Welbeck has a small chance of playing.