Wenger focused on Toffees test
Arsene Wenger has called on his Arsenal players not to let the club’s 125th anniversary celebrations detract them from delivering a match-winning performance against Everton on Saturday.
On Friday the Gunners unveiled statues to three legends – record-goalscorer Thierry Henry, Double-winning captain Tony Adams and former manager Herbert Chapman – as part of a weekend of tributes, which include a guard of honour for some more famous club personalities ahead of kick-off at Emirates Stadium.
However, with his current team looking to maintain their upturn in form and close in on the top four, Wenger insists once the whistle goes, everyone must concentrate on the game in hand.
"History is one thing, performance on the day is another, and that is what is important for us at the moment," the Arsenal boss said.
"We are in a position where we just want to collect points because the pace dictated by the teams in front of us is tremendous.
"To keep in touch with them it is important we win our games."
Wenger added: "We know we fight for our lives in the Premier League.
"We have come back to a decent position and want to climb high up.
"Our job is to focus to reach our targets, to make history but to leave it to other responsible people at the club to honour those who have already made history.
"We are there to perform, and that is what we want to do tomorrow."
Wenger rested several key men for the midweek Champions League trip to Olympiacos, where the Gunners lost what was a meaningless final group match 3-1.
However, the trip to Athens came at some cost, with Brazil left-back Andre Santos set for an extended spell on the sidelines because of an ankle injury.
Wenger admits his squad is now somewhat stretched on both flanks in defence.
He said: "We have lost Santos for a while because the ankle injury is more severe than expected.
"How long he will be out we do not know, but it will be more than three weeks so he is definitely out for the Christmas period, that is for sure.
"With [Kieran] Gibbs not being available yet, we have a problem on both flanks with two right full-backs and two left full-backs out."
Wenger, however, is confident there is enough cover available, with Thomas Vermaelen set to move out to the left.
The Arsenal boss said: "Let’s hope we get away with it, its not ideal at the moment, but that’s part of the team as well, to adapt to problems and get over them.
"We are where we want to be – we are a team who has improved the levels of performances and the level of confidence, but there is still room for improvement."
Henry had paid an emotional tribute to Arsenal and his former team-mates after seeing himself immortalised in a bronze statue outside Emirates Stadium.
The 34-year-old – who left for Barcelona in June 2007, where he would go on to lift the Champions League before moving to the Major Soccer League in the United States with New York Red Bulls – felt he had been left "speechless" by the whole tribute.
"At the very beginning, when I heard about it, I honestly thought it was a joke, until I realised it wasn’t," said Henry, who netted 226 goals as the Gunners won two Premier League titles and the FA Cup twice.
"I was fortunate to have won a lot of stuff in my career, but that tops it all."
Henry, though, added: "Without your team you are nothing. It would not have been possible without them so I want to thank them too."
The French World Cup winner has been training with Arsenal following the end of the MLS season, and admits watching games as a fan can be difficult.
"I am in pain when Arsenal lose, I can’t take it well," said Henry.
"I didn’t like it when I was a player and it’s worse now – at least when you’re a player you can do something about it."
Henry added: "It was hard at the beginning of the season, but now I think they are on the right track and they have to keep on going."
Everton boss David Moyes will once again be without midfielder Jack Rodwell for the trip to north London.
Moyes has revealed that Rodwell, who only made his comeback from a rib injury last weekend as a substitute in the 1-0 loss to Stoke, will not feature at the Emirates Stadium due to a hamstring problem he picked up in training on Thursday.
Fellow midfield men Leon Osman (hamstring) and Royston Drenthe (foot) will be assessed ahead of kick-off, while Moyes is hopeful that striker Louis Saha will be able to return to action after a thigh complaint.