Wenger eyes festive push

The Gunners seemed destined for a poor campaign when they won just

one of their opening five matches, but the squad rallied behind

under-fire boss Wenger to drag the team back up the table with a

seven-match unbeaten run. That sequence only came to an end last

week with a 1-0 defeat at Manchester City, where Wenger was furious

to see Robin van Persie’s second-half goal disallowed for offside.

The festive period proved fruitful for the Gunners last term as

they beat Chelsea and drew with City, and this year, having climbed

to fifth place, they face much easier opponents in the form of

Wolves, QPR and Fulham. Nevertheless, Wenger knows a slip-up could

cost Arsenal dearly as they are just two points ahead of

sixth-place Liverpool and he has urged his team to retain their

focus for the rest of the festive campaign. “We know we have an

opportunity to gain a better position on the table. It’s down to us

to do our job,” Wenger said. “In the Premier League the Christmas

period is vital to get your points. “We have responded well to our

defeat at Man City with a win at Aston Villa, so now it’s down to

us to do the job at home and get the points against Wolves on

Tuesday. “Every game has its own difficulty so what is important

for us is to focus on our own game and perform well. “In the

Premier League if you don’t focus then you don’t win, so let’s

focus on our next game and try to win it. “We have learned that you

win only if you are at your best. That’s the difficult, to combine

the Christmas period with focus.” A London Underground strike has

caused the Gunners to put the game against Mick McCarthy’s team

back by 24 hours. That means the Arsenal players will have

Christmas Day off, but Wenger has warned his squad that they will

face a tough task when they return to action at the Emirates

Stadium two days later. McCarthy came under fire as Wolves started

slowly and the Midlands outfit sit just one point above the drop

zone having taken one point from their last two games against

Norwich and Stoke. Despite his team’s superiority, Wenger is

expecting a tough game, however. “Wolves are a side that plays good

football,” Wenger said. “They always look dangerous going forward

and they make it tough for everybody. They have the Mick McCarthy

spirit and attitude, they never give up. “They play a very positive

game so we know what to expect. They fight to stay in the league

and you know it is always an intense game against them. They are

dangerous, of course, they make life difficult for everybody.”