Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger wary of Norwich City in the Premier League
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has warned the Gunners not to be fooled by Norwich's recent form ahead of tomorrow's Premier League test at the Emirates.
City head to north London aiming to avoid a fourth consecutive league reverse, but Wenger insists the hosts can afford no slip ups in their bid for Champions League football.
'I expect them to play at their best because it would be absolutely non-intelligent from us to expect a team to play a little bit softer,' he said. 'That would not be very professional. Let's expect them to be at their best. Norwich and Swansea are two teams who basically with 10 games to go were safe and that is the first time since that happened since I have been in the Premier League.
'It shows you that they have quality and that in the Championship the quality is going up.
'For us it is absolutely vital. That is the target of our season and it is absolutely vital now to focus. At the end of the season what makes the difference is how much your team can get the concentration right, can keep focused on getting over the line and that is why we have a good opportunity to show that we have that experience and that we can deal with that.'
Wenger believes the likes of Grant Holt and the rest of his unheralded team mates have been a refreshing addition to the top flight.
'He has been great. Norwich is a team that crosses a lot – they have the second highest number of crosses in the league and Grant Holt got on the end of many of them,' he said. 'So he has been a revelation in this league.
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'When you look at Norwich, the squad is not as small as people think it is. I agree with you that they did come into this league with relatively unknown players but what is fantastic in this job is that it is not about names, it is about performances. They have done remarkably well.'
Wenger knows clinching blue chip European football again next season is crucial to his attempts to convince footballer-of-the-year Robin van Persie to pledge his long term future to the club. The Frenchman remains positive of keeping his prized asset.
'Who would want to lose his best player? My desire and my wish is to find an agreement with Robin van Persie, extend the contract and stay with us for a longer time. Hopefully we can reach that,' he said. 'If that wouldn't happen, we will still want him to stay, but I am more focused on the first situation.
'I think what is important for us is that we find an agreement with him to be happy and to stay and finish his career here. I cannot guarantee that it will go well, but I am quite confident.
'I believe Robin is committed to the club, I feel that the club has shown great commitment to him over the years and put great faith in him. I brought him here a long, long time ago and he has developed fantastically well as a man and as a player.
'Today he is a world-class player and he deserves great credit. Hopefully we can keep him here.'