There is nothing Arsene Wenger relishes more than confounding his doubters and the Arsenal manager will know on Saturday whether he has a strong chance of doing so once again.
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Wenger’s side travel to Stoke having boosted their chances of qualifying for the Champions League – a task that looked a lost cause just a few weeks ago – by winning 2-0 at Southampton on Wednesday.
That left Arsenal in fifth place in the Premier League, three points behind Manchester City in the slot directly above.
City will have played their home game with Leicester City by the time Arsenal kick off at Stoke, but a Gunners victory is sure to stoke up the pressure on Liverpool, who are currently in third.
Jurgen Klopp’s side are four points better off than Arsenal, but crucially have played one fixture more than City and the Gunners, and are at West Ham on Sunday.
But while Wenger cannot wait to say ‘told you so’ to his critics Gunners defender Shkodran Mustafi is still concerned his team may have left it a little too late.
“I wish we found that before,” he said of Arsenal’s recent revival.
“But now we have three games and we have to give everything to try and get everything out of all the games. Hopefully at the end we’ll reach our goals.”
Arsenal will finish the campaign with home games against relegated Sunderland and then Everton, but first they must focus on ending their poor run at Stoke.
Although they have not won there since 2010, losing on four of their eight visits, Wenger’s men will be hopeful of ending that sorry sequence so long as Alexis Sanchez is in the team.
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