Wenger calls for more of the same
Published 04/10/2013 | 09:16
Arsene Wenger has challenged his Arsenal side to continue to set the pace in the Barclays Premier League with an 11th straight victory at West Brom.
The Gunners return to the Hawthorns - where they came through a penalty shoot-out against the Baggies in the Capital One Cup just over a week ago - on the back of a hugely impressive 2-0 Champions League victory over Napoli.
Since losing the opening Premier League game at home to Aston Villa, Wenger's squad have regrouped to embark on an astonishing run of form through all competitions, and have been clearly lifted by the £43million deadline-day signing of Mesut Ozil, who scored his first Arsenal goal and then made another against Napoli.
Wenger sees no reason why the Gunners - who have endured plenty of negative headlines in recent frustrating campaigns - should not use their new-found self-belief to their advantage.
"When the team has confidence they go into the game with a positive feeling and a positive attitude. The more you build that confidence up with the results, the more you go into the next game thinking 'let's just do it to win the game'," Wenger said on Arsenal Player.
"What is positive is that the team plays better when the environment is positive.
"We played in a sceptical environment last year and that does not create a great level of confidence. What has changed recently for sure is that our environment is positive, our fans believe in us again.
"That of course is very important if we want to be successful, if you feel your fans believe in you and they think that you are good. I have said many times that I feel it is important for the team to feel that the fans stand behind the team.
"On my side, my job I see the other way - it is not for the fans to make me happy, it is my job to make the fans happy. I feel I do that if they stand behind the team, because that gives you the feeling that they have done something right."
Despite his side's impressive start, Wenger earlier this week brandished talking up title chances so early in the campaign as "absolutely ridiculous'', and has again moved to keep everyone at the north London club very much grounded following more glowing headlines after the Napoli match.
"What is important is to put that all into perspective and you know that it's the hype around the game," he continued.
"It is positive because it shows the huge interest, but as well people tend to judge the moment as the definitive situation - however, it is just a photo of the situation, of the moment you talk.
"We want of course to win trophies, but that is all (still) to do. The only way we have a chance to do it is to try to focus on the way we play."
Full-back Bacary Sagna (hamstring) is a doubt, while midfielder Jack Wilshere is pressing for a recall having started on the bench against Napoli as Czech playmaker Tomas Rosicky returned from injury.
Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott will both be out until after the international break.