Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal can use the Christmas schedule to climb the Premier League table.
The Gunners will face three different opponents in the space of one week, starting with Queens Park Rangers’ visit to the Emirates Stadium on Boxing Day. The French boss says Arsenal can put up consistent performances over the busy festive period and rise above their present sixth position in the table.
“We played QPR two years ago and they were very difficult games,” Wenger said in his pre-game media briefing on Tuesday. “West Ham at the moment are in very good shape. We go away to Southampton, which is a very difficult schedule as well.
“There are three games in a very short period of time and we can make points. Our opponents will think that as well, but let’s just put the performances in and capitalise on it. The consistency in that period is what will matter.”
The ‘R’s’ are yet to win on the road after 17 round of matches and Wenger has only lost once on Boxing Day in his 17 seasons as Arsenal manager. All 17 points accrued by Harry Redknapp’s side have come on their Loftus Road turf.
Wenger added: “We expect QPR, with nothing to lose, to come and have a go at us. But we have to focus on our performances and especially make sure that over Christmas we take advantage of the schedule we have and put the performances in.
“We have a good opportunity over Christmas to show that we are much better than people think we are.
“In the Premier League, every game is difficult and you just want to turn up.”
Charlie Austin hit hat-trick against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday to increase his goal haul to 11, with only Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero and Chelsea’s Diego Costa with more tallies than the striker, who was playing for Poole Town in the Wessex League five years ago.
Wenger feels the 25-year-old’s “mental strength and tenacity” has helped him excel in the top-flight.
“That mental strength is very important at the top level,” continued Wenger. “Secondly, it could bring some idea that there might be some other players down there who are good enough to come up to the Premier League and don’t get the chance.
“Congratulations to him and as well to the people that have given him a chance.”
Wenger is looking to welcome Aaron Ramsey, Yaya Sanogo and David Ospina back in his match day squad on Friday but says Mikel Arteta, who scored late against the Rangers last term at the Emirates, Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil are in line for a return in January.
“From Sunday I think everybody should be fit and available,” Wenger confirmed. “We might have Rosicky back in the squad and Sanogo back in the squad. Bellerin, I don’t know yet, but certainly Rosicky and Sanogo will be available.
“Arteta is progressing well. It should be very quick now. He will not play before January.”