Spurs don’t have the quality for top four - Szczesny
Arsenal goalkeeper says north London rivals have too much to do despite win over Southampton
Wojciech Szczesny is confident Arsenal will secure Champions League football. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Wojciech Szczesny has reignited his war of words with Tottenham by claiming that Arsenal’s north London rivals do not have enough quality to finish inside the top four this season.
Of the three, Tottenham appear the most likely to fail. Andre Villas-Boas’ men warmed up for their huge game in hand clash at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night by limping to a narrow win over Southampton courtesy of Gareth Bale’s 86th-minute strike.
As fans from both Spurs and Arsenal will be aware, Gunners goalkeeper Szczesny last year repeatedly declared his dislike for the “the other north London club” - a club he conceded on one occasion that he “hates”.
The confident Pole has bitten his tongue on the matter this season as Arsenal have trailed their rivals for a lot of the campaign, but he could not resist a dig at Tottenham on Saturday night after Theo Walcott’s strike at QPR gave his team a win that keeps them two points ahead of Spurs.
“I was convinced that Tottenham had drawn 0-0 against Southampton, I only found out after the game that they had won 1-0, but I don’t think it matters really,” Szczesny told Arsenal Player. “If we win our next two games it will be enough because either Chelsea or Spurs will drop points because they play each other. If you look at Chelsea’s fixtures, they have Tottenham and Everton left and they won’t be easy games. And Tottenham do not have enough quality, so there you go...”
Anyone who watched the first 85 minutes of Tottenham’s game against relegation-threatened Southampton would be inclined to agree with Szczesny’s assessment. Villas-Boas’s side lacked creativity in midfield and looked toothless up front until Bale’s late 25-yard drive clinched a dramatic win. But Arsenal were hardly vintage in their win over a QPR side who had not won their previous six games.
Arsenal were notorious for grinding out 1-0 victories during their heyday, though, and Szczesny hopes the team’s current form - they are unbeaten in nine - will be the start of something special for the club, who last won a trophy eight years ago.
“I would settle for another two 1-0 wins in the rest of the season and a place in the top three,” Szczesny said. “Even if we have games like the QPR one, it might have been boring at times, but we couldn’t care less at this time. We just got the three points. Hopefully it will be back to the old days and hopefully we will get back to winning trophies as well.”
Manager Arsene Wenger dropped Szczesny following Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat at Tottenham in March, and it had been expected that Lukasz Fabianski would remain in goal for the rest of the campaign.
The former Legia Warsaw man cracked a rib against Norwich, though, and Szczesny has excelled since returning to the team, conceding just one goal - a Robin van Persie penalty - in his last four games.
Arsenal would be joint fifth with Spurs this morning had the Pole not denied Loic Remy with an excellent save in the dying stages of Saturday evening’s London derby.
The save drew high praise from Wenger, who may have Fabianski available for Sunday’s game at Wigan, but Szczesny played down his contribution towards the win.
“I don’t think it was a great save,” he said. “I am not getting too excited, it’s about the team’s defending. It’s not just the two centre-backs, it’s not just the goalkeeper, it’s the whole team. A lot of credit has to go to (Arsenal assistant) Steve Bould for his work.”