Wenger wants winning mentality
Arsene Wenger has challenged his young Arsenal side to show they are winners every time they step out onto the pitch.
Gunners captain Cesc Fabregas, who will miss Saturday’s Premier League clash against Birmingham at the Emirates Stadium with a hamstring problem, expressed his concerns in a Spanish radio interview of the need for his team-mates’ "wealth of quality" to be translated into a "winning mentality" and deliver some long-overdue silverware.
Arsenal suffered successive league defeats before the international break, losing at home 3-2 to West Brom and then going down 2-0 at Chelsea to leave them some seven points behind the leaders, only just clinging on to fourth place.
Wenger feels once that illusive first trophy comes, the last being the FA Cup in 2005, then more will follow.
"It can be misinterpreted. I think everybody has a great desire to win, but you get a winning mentality as well when you have won," Wenger said when asked to respond to his captain’s outspoken comments.
"What is at stake for us is not the desire to win, but to make history and to win trophies.
"As long as you have not won you are not completely certain that you can do it – but that does not mean that you lack the desire to win.
"This team has a great desire to win, but you have to show it week in week out.
"This life, at the top level today, in the best league in the world, is to turn up every single game at full cylinders."
Wenger is counting on his team to produce a response against the Blues, when his attacking options will be bolstered by the return to fitness of strikers Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner.
"We were not mentally sharp from the start against West Brom, and we have to make sure tomorrow that we start the game with a strong attitude," he said.
"The regret we have at Chelsea is that it was still possible for us to make a result with all those players out.
"That can give us belief and make us think we have a bright future.
"You know you want to win your games, but in the Premier League you do not get away with 95 per cent focus – you have to be at your best or you don’t win your games."
While Wenger feels the title race is far from over, despite the defending champions’ current clear advantage, the Arsenal manager accepts there can be little more margin for error.
"We have a lot of encouragement from the game at Chelsea and we want to use the positives – but we are seven points behind and we cannot waste more points.
"The feeling I have is that Chelsea can drop points and it will be down to who is the most consistent team."
Wenger will take charge of his 800th match on Saturday.
However, the Frenchman, who turns 61 later this month, maintains a positive result would be the only cause for celebration.
"What is important is that I focus on the result of the game tomorrow – it is not a birthday game, it is a very important game for us in the league," said Wenger, in charge of the Gunners since September 1996.
"I hope, and am convinced, that everyone will be highly focused.
"It is a big game for us."