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Pope Focused On Clarets' Own History

Nick Pope says honouring legend Arsene Wenger won't be a distraction

5 May 2018

Nick Pope will share in the farewell to a Premier League ‘legend’ when Arsene Wenger says his Emirates Stadium goodbyes on Sunday.

But the Clarets’ goalkeeper insists it will still be business as usual for Burnley as they look to draw level on points with the Gunners in the Premier League and rubber-stamp their own place in Europe next season.

Victory for Sean Dyche’s men would leave Arsenal holding onto sixth place in the table only on goal difference with one game in hand going into the final week of the campaign.

And that will be the focus for Burnley once they have paid due respect to Wenger, who takes charge of his last home game after almost 22 years as Arsenal manager.

“When he took over I think I was four years old. So for me, he is Arsenal. He’s the only manager I have ever pictured in the dug-out,” said Pope.

“For people of my era and my age he is what you think about when you think of Arsenal.

“It’s been an unbelievable career and the longevity is something we may never see again.

“Arsene Wenger is a legend of the Premier League. He’s someone whose career should be celebrated and rightly so.

“It’s a piece of history to be involved in but the game is the most important thing for us.

“There will be extra noise and extra things about it but that’s something out of control.

“We have to take it as a normal game. We can’t go into it half-hearted. If you do that, a team like that will punish you.

“We have to go in there with the same attitude we have all season.

“You treat it as a normal game and you go through the same processes as for any away game.”

Wenger’s last chance of adding to the three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups he has won as Arsenal boss disappeared with his side’s Europa League semi-final defeat to Atletico Madrid on Thursday night.

The Gunners are heading back into the competition next season, along with Burnley provided eighth-placed Everton – who play Southampton on Saturday evening – don’t make up a six-point and 15-goal deficit over the final two games.

Any positive result in North London for the Clarets would kill off that unlikely prospect and secure a return to European competition for the first time since 1967.

And after taking points at Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea in a season that has brought the Clarets seven away wins, Pope is looking to add to the tally against an Arsenal side which has won one of its last six games and continued its poor away form with defeat in Spain.  

“It’s a big day for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger but for us we will be looking to maybe gain some points on Arsenal, so the results on Saturday won’t really change our mindset,” Pope added.

“It may be a little bit of a different (Arsenal) team but the style they play is something we’ve worked on.

“We won’t know their team until Sunday, but we have to prepare for the best Arsenal they can be and that’s what we are.

“It’s been a normal week, training has been good and we look forward to Sunday.

“When you’re in the Premier League these are the games and the stadiums you want to go and test yourself.

“We have enjoyed playing on the road this year. We picked up some results early on which breathed confidence into us.

“We took it on from there and we carried it on all season which is pleasing and with one to go we’d like to end on a high.”

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