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Wenger Praises Southampton Ahead of Crucial Clash
ESPN FC, November 22nd, 2013 3:25PM

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TAGS:  arsenal, england

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Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger thinks Southampton should be considered a contender for a top-four finish after the club’s surprising start to the season. Mauricio Pochettino’s men, currently third in the English Premier League table, travel to the Emirates Stadium on Saturday with the league’s best defensive record.

When asked about Southampton’s chances of a top-four finish, the Frenchman replied: “You cannot rule anyone out, and if they keep their defensive record as it is, they can be very ambitious.” He added: “Pochettino has done extremely well. He came in at a period when he was questioned and he has done, without speaking too much, a great job in a very efficient way. He has put Southampton where they are today, so you have to give him great credit for that.”

Wenger noted that while he didn’t see the Saints’ rise coming, especially after beating them 6-1 in September 2012 and then drawing 1-1 at St. Mary’s during the Christmas period later that year, the success of its youth academy, which has produced the likes of Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez, is well-documented.

“Look at the quality of work they have done, look at the players they have in the national team and players who could potentially go into the national team,” he said. “We have Oxlade-Chamberlain and Walcott [from Southampton]. It shows the quality of the club. It is tremendous what they have achieved.”

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