Arsene Wenger demands focus from Arsenal in season run-in

 

Arsene Wenger has warned Arsenal cannot afford to switch off as they enter the stage of the season which "matters the most".

The Gunners head into their final eight Barclays Premier League matches having rediscovered form to put together seven straight wins which have lifted them above Tottenham into third place.

However, with a trip to relegation battlers QPR on Saturday to come and with only a three-point lead over Spurs, who have not won for five league games, Wenger accepts there can be little room for complacency.

"This is the period where what we do matters the most, so we just want to keep our focus on this and not worry about anybody else's results," the Arsenal manager said.

"We have shown both footballing and mental qualities in recent weeks and now we need to continue our development."

It is certainly a turnaround in fortunes for Arsenal, who crashed out of the FA Cup at Sunderland just days after being humiliated 4-0 by AC Milan in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash in mid-February.

After recovering in the Premier League following a run of three straight defeats in January, Wenger knows there is now little margin for further error if they are to go on and guarantee Champions League football again next season with a third-placed finish.

"We are now at the stage of the season where every day in the Premier League seems to have turning points," he said.

"What is most important from now onwards is our consistency and momentum."

Arsenal are hopeful centre-back Laurent Koscielny will be available at Loftus Road having pulled out of the Aston Villa game last weekend during the warm-up with a knee problem.

Full-back Andre Santos made his return to action after more than three months sidelined because of a broken foot when he came on during the 3-0 win over Villa.

The 29-year-old Brazilian, who joined from Fenerbahce last August, feels at home with the Gunners.

"The Premier League is something different - it's the best league in the world. It's hard to play in, the pace is different, the fact that almost every pitch is wet makes the ball run more, the tackles are harder, and it's just really good," he told Arsenal Player.

"I have totally adapted. I feel very well, people here have received me with open arms, and I mean everyone, the club, the staff and the fans.

"Now all I want is to make history with this club."

Santos revealed he had been inspired by the messages of support during his time on the sidelines, after being injured in the Champions League group game away to Olympiacos.

He said: "All of that gave me the strength to carry on, and it all just contributes to my desire to work hard for this club and win titles in the red shirt."

Arsenal are understood to have now agreed the formalities of an £11million deal to bring in German striker Lukas Podolski from Cologne, but a public announcement has been delayed at the request of the Bundesliga club, who are fighting against relegation.

Wenger, meanwhile, could today be handed a European touchline ban should UEFA announce the decision to their disciplinary case following a confrontation with referee Damir Skomina in the wake of Arsenal's Champions League exit against AC Milan last month, which came despite a 3-0 win at the Emirates Stadium.

PA

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