Arsenal avoid drama to defeat Wolves

LONDON - Arsenal made sure they did not push the self-destruct button on Saturday as they cruised past Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 to bolster Arsene Wenger's belief that his side can overhaul Manchester United in the title race.

Robin van Persie scored twice as second-placed Arsenal kept United's lead at four points with 12 games left to play. As victories go it was as stress-free as last week's bizarre collapse at Newcastle United was harrowing.

"We are in a Premier League race, we believe we can do it, we have the hunger, and we can focus on every single competition and that is important," Wenger, whose team threw away a 4-0 lead last week to draw 4-4, told the club website.

With Barcelona looming large in Wednesday's Champions League first knockout round tie Wenger was delighted his side had maintained their focus on the domestic title race.

"We were defensively solid and that was important after the four goals we conceded," Wenger said. "We create many chances, the only regret is that maybe we didn't score enough goals.

"We had to stay focused. For us it is important because on Wednesday we play certainly at the moment the best team in the world. It is important to go into the game with psychological confidence and as well in a strong position in the league.

"For me it was important we showed the focus today and (the players) did not have Barcelona in their mind."

While Dutch striker Van Persie grabbed the headlines with his timely double, Wenger again praised the contribution of young midfielder Jack Wilshere who made his first start for England on Wednesday against Denmark.

"I think he had a very good game. He defends well, attacks well, creates chances, had assists," Wenger said, adding that all Wilshere needs now is to add to his solitary league goal this season. "I believe he will soon score, he looks very close.

"He has a hesitation sometimes to finish himself and chooses at the moment to give the ball, but I think when he will be a bit more confident he will score goals. He has not scored yet but Cesc (Fabregas) was for a while like that."

Wenger said he was confident that Van Persie, who has scored eight goals in the last six games, would be fit to face Barcelona despite going off with a knee injury.