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."

News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
Arts and Entertainment
Swiss guards stand in the Sistine Chapel, which is to be lit, and protected, by 7,000 LEDs
art

The Sistine Chapel is set to be illuminated with thousands of LEDs

News
people
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
News
Gillian Anderson was paid less than her male co-star David Duchovny for three years while she was in the The X-Files until she protested and was given the same salary
people

Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood

Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Sport
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?