Arsene Wenger warns Arsenal will get better in push for Champions League qualification

Gunners have momentum in bid to finish in top four

Manager Arsene Wenger has warned the best is yet to come from his Arsenal side over the closing weeks of the Barclays Premier League campaign.

Following a string of frustrating inconsistent performances during the first half of the season, Wenger's men are now finally producing the required standard on a regular basis as they look to secure Champions League football once again.

Arsenal have built up a formidable head of steam, with seven wins in the last nine Premier League matches as well as a memorable away victory at Bayern Munich as they bowed out of Europe.

Should the Gunners men beat Norwich tomorrow, then they would leapfrog both Chelsea and Tottenham up into third place as neither of their London rivals are in league action this weekend because of the FA Cup semi-finals.

Wenger was always confident his side could find form at just the right time.

"I believe our team has always developed a way to play that makes them stronger throughout the season. That is maybe one of the consequences of it - that we go from strength to strength," Wenger said.

"We should not forget that, in recent seasons, we have started with young squads who have learnt first during the season, or with squads who have been disturbed because we sold players and we had to rebuild a team.

"Of course it takes a while to get into a good momentum [after that]."

Arsenal are expected to have England duo Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere available again following their injury lay-offs.

However, Wenger revealed there is a concern for Czech playmaker Tomas Rosicky, who scored both goals in last weekend's 2-1 win at West Brom, but is a "big doubt" because of a hamstring problem.

Centre-half Per Mertesacker will be suspended after his red card at The Hawthorns for denying a goalscoring opportunity, which resulted in a penalty and a nervy finish for the visitors.

With the 6ft 6ins German not available, captain Thomas Vermaelen is set for a recall, having been benched since the defeat at Tottenham.

Wenger, though, has hailed the attitude of the Belgian defender, who took the skipper's armband following Robin van Persie's summer sale to Manchester United.

"He took it in a remarkable way [when he lost his place]," the Arsenal manager said.

"He is a great man and I didn't make him captain by coincidence. I knew there is something mentally special there.

"Vermaelen responds in positive situations and in less positive situations like when you don't play.

"They know there could be rotation with the three centre backs from the start of the season, depending on good and less good periods of any individual player. He [Vermaelen] took that remarkably well."

Arsenal raced out of the blocks in their last home match against bottom club Reading with an early goal, before going on to win 4-1.

Wenger expects more of the same tomorrow when they look to avenge a shock defeat at Carrow Road earlier in the season.

"Once we are in front, the teams who usually defend against us have to come out and that gives us space to develop our game even better. That shows you that when we start our games in a positive way, we can dominate," the Gunners boss said.

"It shows you just how important the confidence is to go into the games and to have a strong start."

PA

News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions