Date: 12th December 2016 at 11:31pm
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Manager Arsene Wenger has been holding his pre midweek Everton meet and greet with the media and as you can imagine a number of topics were discussed.

Well they always are with Wenger aren’t they.

With a quick look back to the Stoke City victory last weekend where Arsenal came from behind for the sixth time this season to take all three points, Wenger explained to the Official Site and the assembled media that it was a nifty trick to have thesedays as in his opinion the quality gap between the sides in the Premier League thesedays is a lot narrower than it used to be, so sides like Arsenal have to accept they won’t have everything their way and they need a way to deal with matches like that.

That spirit will also be key throughout the festive run of fixtures as well.

‘When you look at the teams around us, you can see that the margin of difference between the teams has shrunk a lot. So the way you respond in every single game is absolutely vital. It`s a very important period where everyone has to be absolutely focused on our results and on the way we want to play. It`s down to the quality of the players – it`s as simple as that. It`s nothing to do with psychology, it`s down to how well the players play on the football pitch. We have not to go overboard with that, it`s nothing to do with that.’

That led him to credit the mentality of the group this campaign.

‘The strong mentality of the players is first down to the fact that we have more maturity in the squad and that the players are more experienced. We played for many years with a very young squad, so under pressure they are a bit more vulnerable. Also, it is linked to the recent history of the team – we have not lost for a long time and that creates as well strength in the squad and belief, and trust, and that is of course much more linked with that.’

With a number of teams tipped for the top this season and Arsenal being one of them, as we head into the New Year the table generally starts to separate itself as the weeks pass and Wenger was asked who he thought the competition was for the title this year.

He wasn’t going to fall into that trap!

‘I don`t know. We go to Everton, let`s focus on Everton and try to win the game. That`s all you can do – win your next game. In football that`s all you can do. What is for sure is at the moment every game is like a cup final for everybody. We just came out of a game where we were 1-0 down and for the sixth time in the season, we come back after having been down. So let`s continue to focus on that, on our resilience and on our motivation and after let`s see how far we can go.’

Pressed about Chelsea’s nine wins on the spin, Wenger said whilst they are one of the many candidates he doesn’t believe there is a ‘super favourite’ just yet and he included Arsenal in that ‘non group’.

‘They are one of the teams who are doing extremely well at the moment. They will have to maintain that, like everybody else at the top. I believe they will be one of the title candidates, of course. There`s no super favourite at the moment. No (Arsenal), nobody is. When you look at the league, it`s down to consistency. Every time, when a team is favourite to win, they struggle or they don`t win. It`s very open, very interesting, but it`s also a massive challenge of consistency.’

Shkodran Mustafi featured given his three weeks to a month lay off and the gaffer said that it would be a challenge with him missing but he had faith in Gabriel and Rob Holding to step up and perform – ultimately it’s why we have a squad.

‘It is a challenge, because we had a good defensive stability but we have Gabriel, we have Holding, who can come in for him. Overall, I am confident that both can do well, but that`s one of the tests we have. We have had many tests since the start of the season, players like Cazorla who have suddenly moved out of the team and we have managed to deal with it and that`s another challenge.’

With Gabriel’s English still being less than perfect, he added.

‘I must say It`s still not perfect. But he`s wanting always to do well. He has adapted very well to the right-back position and I think it helped him to lift his level of confidence. Hopefully he can come in and do well.’

With continuing press talk about Wenger’s future and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, asked about the Ox he said.

‘What my head and my heart is telling me is: don`t talk about it anymore!’

And quickly followed with.

‘My head and my heart tells me not to talk about that too! We are all focused on targets that are of course this season. We don`t have time or energy to think about the rest. I`ve told you many times that I want to do as well as I can for this club for as long as I`m here.’

When it came to his own future.

Going back to Everton more specifically, questioned a little more about team news he also confirmed that the game would come too soon for Aaron Ramsey and the other players sidelined continue to be sidelined, but as he spoke we have no fresh issues.

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