Wenger looks for consistency ahead of title tilt

Arsenal's Mesut Ozil (R) celebrates his goal against Aston Villa with Santi Cazorla

By Jim van Wijk

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger feels his side must focus on maintaining their consistency before turning attentions to a late challenge for the Premier League after dismantling goal-shy Aston Villa 5-0 at the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners recorded a third straight league victory to close up on the top four, and capitalise on Saturday's draw between leaders Chelsea and champions Manchester City.

Arsenal were without leading scorer Alexis Sanchez because of a hamstring problem, but showed they are far from a one-man team.

Yet despite the convincing way in which lacklustre Villa were despatched - with goals from Olivier Giroud, Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott, a Santi Cazorla penalty and a stoppage-time effort from Hector Bellerin - Wenger knows there remains plenty of hard work ahead.

"It is too early to say (Arsenal can still make a challenge for the title)," the Frenchman said. "We are 11 points behind - that means they need to lose four games and we need to win four. I believe that we should try to be consistent and see what happens."

Ozil played a brilliant volleyed through-ball to release Giroud for Arsenal's opening goal on eight minutes.

The Germany playmaker has impressed since his return from a knee injury, also scoring last weekend in the FA Cup win at Brighton.

"Mesut still lacks a little bit of competitive edge on sharpness, but the quality of his game is exceptional and he's getting back now," Wenger said.

Arsenal signed centre-half Gabriel Paulista last week from Villarreal, and the Brazilian was among the unused substitutes.

Villa boss Paul Lambert, meanwhile, was left with plenty of thinking to do following another poor display, his side having last scored a Premier League goal against Manchester United on December 20 - more than 600 minutes of football ago. He said: "You probably can't print the things I am thinking."