Returning players like new signings says Wenger
Arsene Wenger believes the return of Theo Walcott could feel like a new signing and boost Arsenal for what is set to be a make-or-break run of games.
The Gunners could go top of the Barclays Premier League tonight with victory over struggling Bolton at Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal were 11 points adrift of Chelsea after being thumped 3-0 at home at the end of November, but have hauled themselves back into the title race following a run of six wins in eight, while their rivals struggled for consistency.
The Arsenal manager having Walcott - back from a rib problem and who has made only 10 appearances - available again along with the imminent rehabilitation of striker Nicklas Bendtner from groin surgery - can make a real impact as his squad gear up for a crucial few weeks which will see them face Aston Villa, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool.
"We are not close to signing anybody at the moment and we are so focused on the game that we forget a little bit to speak about transfers," said Wenger.
"We have so many players out that our talks are more focused on 'when is he back, when he is back' and it looks like any player we can get back is like a transfer because we have not seen some players this season - like Walcott, like Bendtner.
"They can be fresh for the second part of the season and they can give us a big push."
Although beating Bolton for the second time in four days could send his men above Chelsea on goal difference, having then played the same amount of games, Wenger is not about to put the champagne on ice just yet.
"It has a psychological meaning, that we are there and to fight at the top of the table, but mathematically it has not too much significance because it is a long way to go," Wenger told Arsenal TV Online.
"I am not stupid. We have won nothing yet.
"Yes, we have won some credibility. However, that is not enough.
"We want more, at least we are in a position to fight for it and have a go.
"That is what we want to do, but we know as well that there is a long way to go.
"I have the confidence that my team will give absolutely everything.
"I trust their hunger, I trust their appetite and I trust their spirit."
Wenger added: "It gives a lot of credit to the players that despite all which has happened, we are still there.
"That is the only step we have definitely made - everybody wrote us off and we are back in it."
Wenger admits it is strange to, by a quirk of the fixture schedule, to play the same opponents again so quickly.
"To surprise them is difficult because everybody knows you cannot change too much the way we play football from one day to the next, so they know," he said.
"We will certainly play with a higher collective pace, at a higher team tempo than we did on Sunday, because we will be at home.
"Our fans will be certainly behind us and that makes us at home in an even stronger position, because our fans can help us win matches."
Latest in Sport
Paul Scholes: Manchester United vs Liverpool - I don't understand why Brendan Rodgers was not more attacking against Basel
Jesus Christ plays for Chelsea - that's what one in five children thinks
Transfer Talk: Nemanja Vidic to return to Manchester United; Hazard to leave Chelsea; Sunderland want Radamel Falcao
Frank Warren column: Don't bet on Amir Khan landing pay day against Floyd Mayweather
Manchester United transfer news: Kevin Strootman move edges closer
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food