Wenger aiming high as possible

The Gunners face Southampton on New Year’s Day having taken 10??points from the Christmas schedule, but they have doubts over key striker Danny Welbeck who has a thigh injury.

Absences have proved costly at times for Wenger’s side with Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Mikel Arteta and Jack Wilshere all missing, but the Frenchman hopes the second half of the season will prove smoother sailing with most of those players due back soon.

Victory at St Mary’s would lift Arsenal back into the top four and??leave them within striking distance of third-placed Manchester United ahead of the start of their FA Cup defence against losing finalists Hull City this weekend.

“We will fight to be as close as possible [to the top],” Wenger said.

“Now it is time to catch back the points that we lost now until the end of the??season.

“I feel we were very, very unlucky with the injuries we got, but with the??number of injuries we have had, we have survived quite well.

“I believe that there is a deficit between the potential we have shown and the??number of points we have, that is what we want to get right

“I feel it is nearly impossible that we will have the same bad luck on the??injury front that we had in 2014.

“I believe that hopefully in the second part of the season, we will have more??stability, especially defensively, to be more consistent.”

With forward Olivier Giroud still suspended, Wenger is hopeful Theo Walcott is fit enough to feature against his old club following his groin??injury.

Wenger said: “I judge him a bit short on the competition front, but on the??fitness front he is ready to play.”

The key to Arsenal’s win at West Ham was a solid defensive display which looks likely to only improve with the return of Laurent Koscielny and full-back Mathieu Debuchy back to match fitness.

“At the back (against West Ham) we needed to be focused on our job and I think??we did well,” Koscielny said on Arsenal Player.

“Now the players who have been injured are coming back, so it is good for the??team when you have all the players with you and fit.”