Arsene Wenger targets perfect run-in
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has challenged his side to build on their FA Cup semifinal penalty shootout triumph by winning all of their remaining five Premier League matches to secure a top-four finish.
The Gunners will host West Ham on Tuesday night looking to move themselves back above Everton after the Toffees' 1-0 win at Sunderland sent them fourth, while Wenger's men overcame Wigan 4-2 on penalties in a nerve-shredding 1-1 encounter at Wembley on Sunday.
However, Wenger insists all thoughts of a cup final against Hull on May 17 must now be put aside to secure another shot at elite European football next season.
"When you are in a semifinal and you win, it releases a little bit of pressure on the team on that front, but we want to bounce back in the Premier League,'' said Wenger, who has several players carrying minor fitness problems ahead of Tuesday night.
"Therefore we want to finish strong, we have a battle with Everton and of course it's now down to consistency in our final games. It [five victories] is the target. Do you need it? Nobody knows, but the target is of course to win every game.
"We just want to not imagine the consequences of not doing it, what you want is just to focus on doing it.
"That is where we have the focus, the quality of the spirit, we have the desire and we are slowly getting our players back, so the squad is not [so] depleted any more.
"I believe that they [Everton] have difficult games and we have difficult games, but we want to focus now on what we know we can do.
"We have a more complete squad and we want to win our games, no matter what Everton does. We want to finish in a strong way.
"We can finish the season well -- we can finish in the top four, we can win the FA Cup -- so it's down to how united we will be until the end of the season, and focused together.''
The Gunners have several players in the treatment room including Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott and Tomas Rosicky, while Jack Wilshere is set to step up his rehabilitation from a hairline foot fracture -- and Wenger confirmed he remains confident the England international will play again this season.
"Jack Wilshere should start to jog this week," he continued. "It is all going well, but we have to monitor him now day by day. I think the next three weeks will be very important for him.''
Striker Olivier Giroud injected some fresh life into the Arsenal attack when brought on alongside Yaya Sanogo in the second half against the Latics at Wembley, and Wenger insists the France international -- who saw his personal life come under scrutiny earlier this year -- remains central to the side.
"He has a fantastic spirit, Olivier Giroud is a fantastic team player. He has gone through a little bit more of a difficult period, but that happens to any striker,'' said Wenger.
"The striker is the most demanding position, he has played many, many games -- more games than any other striker in the Premier League.''
Wenger accepts Arsenal will have to stop the supply line to England World Cup hopeful Andy Carroll on Tuesday in order to beat the Hammers.
"Once the ball is up there, you do not find many people who can compete with him and win the challenge, so what is important is that we stop the balls going to him,'' said Wenger.
"Of that quality, in the air, there are not many [better], I don't think so.'' Wenger added. "West Ham are in a comfortable position, that means they can play without fear. So we know that in these kind of games it's very important that we have a good focus and a good tempo in our game.''