Arsenal in the right direction: Wenger Arsene Wenger

LONDON. – Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal are gathering momentum at the right time after they enhanced their prospects of qualifying for the Champions League soccer with a hard-fought 2-1 win at West Ham.

First half goals from Santi Cazorla and Danny Welbeck at Upton Park on Sunday were enough to help Arsenal leapfrog West Ham in the English Premier League table.

And, after a spluttering campaign, the Gunners are back on course to finish in the top four and seal a coveted place in Europe’s elite club competition.

“The Champions League is vital for us,” Wenger said. “We have done it 17 years so I’m entitled at least to believe we can do it.

“It’s still all to do. When you look at the league, everyone fights very hard for it. Southampton, Tottenham, Man United, so many teams who can fight for these positions.

“I always had that belief, but it’s far from done. We just want to win the next game and be consistent in our performances.

Another victory at fourth-placed Southampton on New Year’s Day would be a further step in the right direction for Wenger’s side.

“If you look at our recent results we look to be more stable. We have a big game in front of us now at Southampton,” Wenger added.

With the transfer window set to open on January 1, Wenger knows there will be speculation about moves in and out of the Emirates Stadium, but the Gunners boss is focused on getting his injured players fit rather than any wheeling and dealing.

Out-of-favour Germany striker Lukas Podolski continues to be strongly linked with a January move to Inter Milan.

But Wenger has played down the prospect of him moving on and is more concerned at seeing the likes of Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere return from spells on the sidelines.

“There’s nothing concrete there with Lukas,” Wenger added.

“At the moment nobody goes out. Ozil is coming back at the back of January, so of course there is a lot of competition up front.”

Meanwhile, Alexis Sanchez has revealed his happiness at being an Arsenal player, but insists that he is just another player in Arsene Wenger’s star-studded squad.

The forward has been outstanding for the Gunners since signing in the summer but, in an interview with Chilean daily La Tercera he has denied being the “star” of the team.

Reflecting on a year of ups and downs during his first-ever run of festive fixtures, Sanchez spoke about his World Cup pain, learning English and a whole lot more.

Sanchez on his 2014: “I think it has been a good year, with more positives than negatives.

“Every year I focus on the good stuff, the happy things. And up to now, every year has been a good one, clearly with some better than others.

“But the most important thing is what is yet to come and to try and continue learning and improving, because that’s the only way to progress.

“The hardest thing was going out (from the World Cup) to Brazil. We were so close, then nothing. It would have been a dream . . . and what could have happened if we’d won that game?

“How far could we have got? We’ll never know!”

Sanchez on starring at Arsenal: “Being ‘the star’ is all relative, I don’t agree [that I am]. We have a squad with lots of great players, world-class ones, World Cup winners with Germany and other players who play for England or France.

“In this group I’m just another player. I’ve been lucky to start well but you don’t give the book a title until you’ve finished writing it.”

Sanchez on moving to England: “When you take the decision, you have to convince yourself that it’s the best choice. It’s impossible to know what would have happened if you had made another decision. So far, I am happy at Arsenal.

“I have arrived in a league that I love, my club is fantastic with great teammates, a world-renowned coach who really cares about his players . . . everyone is great! And I’ve recently begun exploring the city more, which is very beautiful and I am enjoying it a lot.”

Sanchez on learning English: “I’m trying to learn and it’s going alright. In any case, with all the travelling I’ve had to do there has not been much time – we were away a lot on international duty or with the Champions League. – AFP/Sky Sports.

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