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Arsene Wenger keen for Arsenal to close gap on Tottenham with north London derby win

Arsene Wenger keen for Arsenal to close gap on Tottenham with north London derby win

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Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger recognises the emotionally charged nature of the north London derby, but is also keen to stress the importance of victory to their season as a whole.

A win for Wenger's side in Saturday's Premier League game against Tottenham at Wembley would take the Gunners just one point behind their fifth-placed rivals and it was that, and the goal of securing a Champions League place via their final league position, that he was keen to focus on at Thursday's pre-match press conference.

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"There is always huge passion before the game and the emotion at stake that becomes a bit more agitated," he said.

"I worked with Pat Rice when I first arrived so he got me very quickly on that territory. It is always a game that is charged emotionally.

"This season, if you look at the table, is a very important game. For us, it is an opportunity to come back closer to the Champions League places, which is a priority."

Wenger was asked about diving in his pre-match news conference, with Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino having recently claimed football is about "tricking the opponent" following claims his players dived at times during the 2-2 draw against Liverpool.

"I think he wanted to say that tricking your opponent, you have to be clever," added Wenger.

"How far? Was it an apology for diving? I'm not sure. I don't think he would.

"I think you have to get rid of diving out of the game. I remember there were tremendous cases here when it was foreign players who did it.

"But the English players have learned very quickly and are maybe the masters now."

Arsenal have lost their last two away games from winning positions - 2-1 at Bournemouth and 3-1 at Swansea - but Wenger is confident that will not become a trend.

"We have lost games with 75 per cent possession, at Swansea for example," said Wenger.

"At the start, it was linked with bad luck, bad decisions - I speak about Watford, West Brom. After that, you question your away form, and that can affect you.

"We lost our last two away games, at Bournemouth where we were 1-0 up, at Swansea where we were 1-0 up. You look at the mistakes we made and I am quite optimistic we will not make them again."

Source: skysports.com