Arsenal V Middlesbrough at Emirates Stadium : Match Preview

21 October 2016
Arsenal V Middlesbrough - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

It's a jungle out there, says title-chasing Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger

Arsene Wenger has compared Arsenal's pursuit of silverware to living in a jungle where "everybody wants to eat you".

Wenger spoke last week of the "virus" of negativity among fans following last season's home defeat by Swansea - a result he believes sealed the demise of the Gunners' title challenge.

When asked if the virus had passed with Saturday's 3-2 victory over the same opponents, the Frenchman replied that success only comes with embracing the demands of maintaining a title push.

"Nothing is gone. In our game you have to accept that. I believe that humility is to understand that you start again from zero and that you are in a jungle," he said.

"We live in a jungle where everybody wants to eat you and you have to survive by keeping your vigilance.

"That's what competition is about. Every day you have to fight again to survive. The love to win and the competitiveness of the Premier League is very exciting."

Wenger insists talks to extend the contract of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, which expire in 2018, are ongoing and denies their futures are tied to his own.

"We are always in touch," said Wenger, whose own deal runs out at the end of the season.

"Mesut Ozil is 28-years-old and in the prime of his career so of course we want him to contribute to the success of this club in the future.

"They are happy at the club and I want them to commit to the club because they believe they are in the right place."

Arsenal are missing the suspended Granit Xhaka against Boro while Santi Cazorla is a doubt after taking a kick against Ludogorets on Wednesday.

Aitor Karanka has admitted he will be a happy man if Middlesbrough finish the season hovering precariously above the relegation zone.

Promoted Boro's encouraging start to their first campaign back in the top flight has been somewhat forgotten after a run of five games since the September international break which has yielded only a single point.

As a result, they head for Arsenal perched just above the drop zone but ahead of 18th-placed Stoke only on goal difference.

However, if they find themselves in that same position after their final-day trip to Liverpool on May 21 next year, their head coach will be thrilled.

Asked if the current position was a concern, Karanka said: "For me, I don't care because I want to be in this position in May.

"I said always in the Championship when you asked me about being first or second or third at that moment, I said always that my aim was to be at the top or second in May.

"We were second last season so we are in the Premier League now and if in May we finish 17th, I will be really, really pleased."

Karanka could have done without a trip to the Emirates Stadium to face in-form Arsenal having seen his side succumb 1-0 at home to Watford in a drab affair last Sunday.

The Gunners destroyed Bulgarian champions Ludogorets 6-0 in the Champions League in midweek and, although Karanka could have been forgiven for watching the game through his fingers, he did not learn anything new from a devastating display.

He said: "I watched the game but I didn't need to watch the game to know their players, to know their style because they play always in the same way.

"It was another amazing game but when you have players like Mesut Ozil, like Santi Cazorla, like Alexis Sanchez, like 25 players, it's easy to play in that way.

"We just have to have our idea and our plan and go there thinking that we can beat them."

Skipper Grant Leadbitter is close to a return.

The midfielder is yet to feature this season after undergoing hernia surgery during the summer but is back in training and working his way towards full match fitness.

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