Stoke out to upset Arsenal's Champions League hopes

Sanchez struck his 20th league goal of the season to open the scoring and Wenger was full of praise for the Chilean - whose own future at the club remains up in the air with his contract expiring next year.

Arsenal beat Southampton 2-0 to end a 14-year winless run at St Mary's and move up to 5th place.

Wenger knows that even nine points might not be enough to guarantee a top-four finish, but he says his team have no option but to win the games in front of them.

"The whole team was dynamic, focused and showed a convincing desire to win the game", Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told the BBC.

Southampton manager Claude Puel, whose side remain 10th, felt his players deserved to take more from the game.

Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud scored the goals as the Gunners closed-in on top-four rivals Manchester City and Liverpool. Alexis never gives up and once he has the ball in the box he is always unsafe.

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Arsenal: "Traditionally there is a fierce rivalry and they had always a very direct game against us".

Giroud, who came in for Danny Welbeck in the 80th minute, sealed the win for the Gunners just three minutes later with a header from inside the six-yard box. We know we have to play to win the games, so let's keep the focus on the way we want to play and on our team spirit. "Every time it was interesting, I think, the play".

This victory may not mean as much as it did during the "Invincibles" campaign, but it could have long-lasting ramifications for both Wenger and Arsenal as the Frenchman continues to contemplate whether to sign a new deal.

Petr Cech made two crucial saves to ensure Arsenal went into the first half break on level terms with the Saints. And if results go with us and we win our last two games, we could be eighth.

That was goal number 20 in the Premier League for the Chilean global this season - his 14th away from home - he also hand a hand in Giroud's goal as he clipped a fine ball to the back post for Aaron Ramsey and proved a point on a night where he needed to.

Shkodran Mustafi is hopeful that Arsenal have recovered from their blip in time to surge into the Champions League.

  • Tabitha Byrd