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Arsenal defeat Southampton to close gap on top four

11 May 2017

Liverpool have no margin for error in the race for a top-four place and must win their remaining two Premier League games to make sure of a spot in next season's Champions League, said left back James Milner.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was removed after 36 minutes suffering with a leg injury, forcing Wenger to rotate his options with Hector Bellerin from the bench.

The goalkeeper was again needed to keep the Gunners level just before the break as he produced a sublime save to somehow keep out Nathan Redmond's rasping long-range drive.

Not only did the goal see Sanchez reach 20 goals for the first time in a Premier League season but it also took him onto 14 away goals for the campaign - the most by anyone this year.

He was only on the pitch a matter of moments but Giroud headed home an Aaron Ramsey centre to settle matters on 83 minutes, his sixth league goal as a substitute this season and the 100th European top-flight strike of his career.

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Southampton, although managed not to lose against Liverpool at Anfield, still remains in worse shape than Arsenal, which is also more motivated.

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Arsenal face games against Stoke City, relegated Sunderland and Everton in their bid to sneak Champions League qualification for the 20th season in succession, and interventions as divine as Sanchez's in this game will be crucial.

"It gives us still a chance to go into the top four", said Wenger.

Late in the game some more sublime build-up play allowed Olivier Giroud - who had come on for Danny Welbeck - to fire home with his head. They were certainly not playing like a team that had to win the match to keep their faint top-four hopes alive.

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Alexis Sanchez opened the scoring with a brilliantly taken goal before Olivier Giroud wrapped up the points.

"I'm the manager of Arsenal Football Club and as long as I'm manager of Arsenal Football Club, I will decide what happens on the technical front, that's it", he said. Responding to a question about the former Bolton player, Wenger thought aloud, "I think in all the games he has played until now he has shown intelligence and composure on the ball".

Wenger has a fitness worry over defender Laurent Koscielny who injured his calf in the United win. "We know we can only win our games, and we had a strong performance on Sunday [against Manchester United] and a strong performance today, so let's just continue".

The Gunners were sloppy and appeared to lack motivation at the start of the second half as the Saints dominated the early possession.

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Arsenal defeat Southampton to close gap on top four