English Premier League: Defence key to Champions League bid, says Walcott

Arsenal forward issues rallying call as team faces QPR today.

Afp May 03, 2013
With just three points separating third-placed Chelsea, Arsenal (fourth) and Tottenham (fifth), the race for the Champions League spot is set to go down to the wire. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON: London’s leading clubs will continue their battle for Champions League places this weekend, with Arsenal striker Theo Walcott saying defence holds the key to qualifying for European club football’s leading tournament.

Manchester United, already crowned Premier League champions and set to tackle Swansea today, are assured one of the four spots on offer to English clubs, while second-placed Manchester City are six points clear of a trio of chasing capital sides.

Chelsea, currently third, are a point in front of Arsenal, with Tottenham Hotspur three points adrift of the Blues. Both Chelsea and Spurs have played one match fewer than the Gunners.

Failure to qualify for the Champions League could have serious implications for any of the London trio, especially Arsenal, who are bidding to play in the competition for a 16th straight season.

If they miss out, speculation linking long-serving manager Arsene Wenger to a move to Paris St Germain is sure to intensify, but Walcott said defending would be decisive in the race for a Champions League place.

“What it comes down to is that if you keep clean sheets, you are going to win games,” said Walcott.

“In recent years we may have faded slightly at the end of games, with the pressure of being 1-0 up, but everyone here is very focused on doing their jobs correctly.

“If we all work hard for each other, then good things should follow.”

Arsenal will expect to keep a clean sheet when they travel to already-relegated London rivals Queens Park Rangers today.

Tottenham continue top-four charge at Southampton

Tottenham, with Gareth Bale having been named on Thursday as the Football Writers’ Association player of the year, barely a week after receiving the equivalent award from England’s Professional Footballers’ Association, are at home to the Wales winger’s former club, Southampton.

“I firmly believe that points will be dropped by all of these three teams that are competing – four if you include Everton, who are in the frame because they are still in with a shot,” said Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2013.


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