Wenger demands Arsenal concentrate on club form

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The Independent Football

Arsene Wenger has told his Arsenal stars to forget about the World Cup and concentrate on driving the Gunners to success both in the Barclays Premier League and Europe.

Arsenal can secure a place in the last 16 of the Champions League with a draw against Standard Liege at Emirates Stadium tomorrow night.

However, the Gunners fell eight points behind leaders Chelsea following a disappointing 1-0 defeat at Sunderland on Saturday, when they were without Holland striker Robin van Persie, who damaged ankle ligaments while away during the international break.

England forward Theo Walcott, however, made a welcome return to action from what has been an injury-plagued start to the campaign against the Black Cats, and could feature again in Europe tomorrow night.

Wenger, though, maintains first and foremost it is the job of his players to deliver the goods for Arsenal, rather than worrying about what they may be able to go on and achieve in South Africa next summer.

"For me, the big season is with Arsenal, not at the World Cup," Wenger declared when quizzed about the importance of the campaign for Walcott, given what is ahead at the end of it.

"We do not pay players to go to the World Cup - we pay the players to do well for Arsenal.

"The first pride of a man is to do well for the guy who pays you in life, not to go to the World Cup."

Captain Cesc Fabregas accepts performing consistently for Arsenal can only help his bid to become first choice for Spain.

He said: "I can understand the boss' point. He is the manager and wants Arsenal to do well, the national team is secondary.

"Sometimes I don't play for Spain, I am on the bench so definitely I want to play well for Arsenal to start in the World Cup.

"My first priority is to play for Arsenal, to play well and to win titles.

"Definitely on my mind in a World Cup year is to play well with Arsenal and be a starter for Spain."