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Wenger: Blue blast in past

ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger has urged his team to put their derby win over Chelsea to the back of their minds as they look to take a big step towards the knockout stages of the Champions League with a win over Marseille tonight.

Arsenal will all but secure qualification to the second round of the competition this evening if they beat the French side and Olympiacos fail to beat Borussia Dortmund in Germany.

The Gunners go into tonight's game full of confidence having shocked Chelsea with a stunning display of attacking football which won them Saturday's London derby 5-3.

Raucous celebrations among the Arsenal squad followed last weekend's win -- a fact that pleased Wenger greatly.

Although Wenger acknowledges the win was important psychologically, he was also keen to remind his team that they have a more important task in hand tonight in the shape of their meeting with Marseille.

"At the time, you want them to be as happy. There is a need for us to communicate with our fans again and that was a good chance, we wanted that," said Wenger about the celebrations on the pitch that followed the team's weekend win.

"After that (match), we have won nothing. We must just use it as a springboard to go further towards our target. The players know that.

"We have now to forget about Chelsea, carry on, and prove that we can keep doing the job.

"We want just to qualify. Our job is to forget about the last game, take the positives out of it, and focus on the next one just as we had to do when we lost 8-2 to Manchester United."


Wenger could rest the likes of Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott after their efforts on Saturday.

However, the manager was keen to stress it was not all about the in-form Dutchman.

"When he starts to score goals people ask are you not too dependent on him?" Wenger said.

"Let's say there's no coincidence when a player scores goals, it's when the whole team does well. I have never seen in my life a player who scores goals when the team doesn't create chances."

He added that the fact Van Persie had managed to stay injury-free had also played its part since the forward has often been hampered by knocks.

"It's impossible to survive at the top level today if you have not a regular presence in the team," the manager said.

"That's why suddenly people discover he is exceptional. For me he was always, but for the first time he has played since the start of the year.

"He's the perfect captain, not because he scores goals but because he behaves on the pitch and off the pitch like a captain who wants his team to do well," he said.

Thomas Vermaelen is fit for tonight's clash and Yossi Benayoun is available after sitting out Saturday's win due to the terms of his loan agreement with the Blues.

Vermaelen's return is a huge boost to the team, but Wenger also revealed some bad news yesterday from the treatment room regarding Abou Diaby, who has suffered a hamstring problem on his comeback from a long-term ankle injury.

"You will not see Diaby for the next three weeks," Wenger said.

"He has had a setback with his hamstring."

While Arsenal have won five straight matches in all competitions, Saturday's 3-2 win at Dijon was the first time this season that Marseille have won consecutive league games.

Marseille almost threw away victory when they allowed unheralded Dijon to rally from 2-0 down before substitute Alou Diarra headed the winner with eight minutes left.

Still, Marseille - French champions in 2010 and runner-up to Lille last season - are in ninth place and 14 points behind leader Paris Saint-Germain after only 12 games.

"We've started a small streak," striker Loic Remy said. "Let's hope it will continue."