Wenger demands consistency
Arsene Wenger has challenged his Arsenal players to make the most of slip-ups from their rivals to swiftly climb the Premier League table.
The Gunners thumped north London rivals Tottenham 5-2 last weekend, when Manchester United lost at Norwich and Chelsea were beaten away to West Brom, while fifth-placed Everton went down 2-1 at Reading. Arsenal head into Saturday's late kick-off at Aston Villa boosted by their midweek Champions League win over Montpellier, which secured safe passage into the last 16 of the competition. Wenger feels if the Gunners can build up a head of steam, they can put pressure on the sides above them.
"With what is going on in the league, it looks like the team that can show consistency has a chance," he said.
"If you have a team who doesn't drop points no matter what you do, you will never come back (into contention) once the difference is there.
"We had a difficult period, I hope now we can show the consistency that is needed to come back."
Arsenal suffered a confidence crisis after the October international break, but there were signs during the midweek European tie of the squad once again believing in themselves. Summer signings Olivier Giroud, Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski all impressed, with the German firing in a fine volley to help seal victory.
"It shows there is good vibes in the dressing room, that they feel accepted, that they feel part of it and that they are capable to adapt to our style of play quite quickly," said Wenger. Another positive for Arsenal has been the return from a long injury lay-off by midfielder Jack Wilshere. The England international netted his first Arsenal goal in almost two years with the opener against Montpellier. Wenger feels there is plenty more to come from the combative 20-year-old, who had to serve a one-match domestic ban after his red card in the recent defeat at Manchester United.
"It is fantastic. I always said if we have Jack back in January, we (would) have done well. He has done much better than expected," said Wenger.
"Jack focuses on what is important for a midfielder: defend well, make the team play well and then he will get on the end of things.
"What is good to see as well, is that he can absorb games now, however, I don't forget that he has been out for 17 months and that we still have to be a bit sensible."
Wenger expects midfielder Abou Diaby to be back with "three to four weeks" from his latest muscle injury, while Czech international Tomas Rosicky is set to rejoin full squad training on Monday. "Last year from January to the end of the season, Rosicky was one of the most influential players in our squad," said Wenger.
"I hope he can repeat that because until now we haven't seen him and he was injured at the European Championship."
Wenger admits he has a "few tired legs" in the group following their recent exertions, and forward Theo Walcott remains out because of a shoulder problem. While the Arsenal manager could look to rotate his side at Villa Park, there will be no chance of taking the challenge of Paul Lambert's young side lightly, despite the hosts own inconsistent form which has dropped them into the bottom three.
"Villa are a dynamic side. At the moment, it is difficult to find a team in the Premier League who cannot cause you problems if you are not completely up for it," Wenger said.
"Looking at the results of last weekend, every team had problems everywhere, that is why we are just prepared to be as good as you can be, and hope that will be enough."
Related Arsenal News