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Arsene Wenger reveals how ‘tapping-up’ wrecked Arsenal’s previous title challenge

PUBLISHED: 07:30 28 February 2016

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (Adam Davy/PA Wire)

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (Adam Davy/PA Wire)

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Arsene Wenger says tapping-up from other clubs caused his side to lose their focus on winning the title in 2010.

The Gunners have not won the league for over a decade but they look set to challenge right down to the wire this season as they sit in third place, two points adrift of leaders Leicester.

Wenger’s men have mounted sporadic title challenges over the past 10 years, but the Arsenal boss pointed to the 2010/11 campaign as a missed opportunity to lift the Premier League trophy.

Arsenal were within one point of league leaders Manchester United in February that year and they looked set to compete for an unprecedented quadruple. But a shocking run of results in March and April saw them crash out of all four competitions, including a defeat to Birmingham in the League Cup final.

Speaking ahead of his side’s trip to face Manchester United on Sunday, Wenger reflected on that disappointing season and compared his current quad to that one.

He believes the 2010 group had their heads turned by interest from other clubs, and insists this side will not lose their focus in the same way.

“This team is certainly top, spirit-wise,” Wenger said. “At the moment I cannot criticise.

“In 2010 we lost the title because the spirit was not what it should be. That was because of individual tap-ups. Now on the spirit front I think we are fine.

“We were very young at the time. The mood of some players was to get a contract somewhere else rather than to win the league.

“We had to sell our players so in April some of the players were tapped up and it was difficult to maintain the focus. Now we don’t have that problem, all the players are focused and they want to win.

“At that time we were losing momentum but now it is the opposite – we are chasing and gaining momentum.

“Psychologically it is completely different today to how it was in 2010. This team is hungry, they want to win – they have shown that in the cup.

“It is my job to relax them a little bit. This part of the season is when you want to be in that position. To be 10 or 15 points behind is a big pressure because maintaining concentration is a massive problem for a manager.”

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