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Monday, January 2, 2012

Sports News: Wenger: Gunners never lost belief

Arsene Wenger may be pleased Arsenal start 2012 in the top four of the Barclays Premier League but he insists the team never lost their self-belief as they prepare for Monday's game against Fulham.

The Gunners secured a 1-0 victory over fellow London outfit QPR on New Year's Eve with Robin van Persie scoring the all-important goal. The three points propelled Arsenal to fourth in the table, usurping Chelsea and Liverpool in the standings.

Few would have predicted such a rise after their poor start to the campaign and Wenger said: "When we were in a difficult situation I always said 'look, we have to take the critics and focus on performing better and improving'."

He added: "I give credit to my players because we have been 17th or 18th in the league. Nobody focused on that and we improved as a team.

"For me, the spirit in the side got us to where we are today. We still have some room for improvement but there is a good base there because the attitude and the spirit are really great."

An area Wenger may look to strengthen now the transfer window has reopened is at left-back. Kieran Gibbs is not expected to return until the end of January with a stomach injury, while summer signing Andre Santos is expected to be sidelined until March with an ankle complaint.

Arsenal's defensive woes deepened further on Saturday when Thomas Vermaelen was forced off in the 54th minute with a calf strain. Defensive midfielder Francis Coquelin filled the void for the remainder of the game against QPR, but some suggest a new signing could be in the offing.

Out-of-favour Manchester City defender Wayne Bridge has been linked with a loan move, which Wenger has previously refused to rule out

Asked whether Vermaelen's injury heightens the need for defensive reinforcements, Wenger said: "Straight after the game I don't know because I need to analyse it all.

"Gibbs is three weeks away but it would be stupid to lose points because we don't have a left-back."

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