Arsenal v Aston Villa: Wenger lauds team spirit
With Arsenal set to host Aston Villa in the Premier League this weekend, Arsene Wenger believes the mood among his players is as good as it has been all season.
Wenger's side come into Sunday's meeting at the Emirates Stadium fifth in the table, having won all four of their previous matches in all competitions.
Impressive wins over Stoke City and Manchester City in the league have been sandwiched by FA Cup victories over Hull City and Brighton and Hove Albion, and Wenger believes momentum is crucial as his side head into an important part of the season.
"We have to be very cautious with the mood in our job because the swings are very quick so the best way you can deal with that is… it helps to get the next result," he said.
"You need a good balance between an optimistic mood and urgency as well.
"We are in a job where of course you want the level of concentration very high and that is what we want to achieve now.
"We go into a period in the next four months that will decide our season. We have to be conscious that our commitment has to be 100 per cent."
There was one blow for Wenger with the news that influential forward Alexis Sanchez is unlikely to feature this weekend due to a hamstring problem, although new arrival Gabriel Paulista is in line for his first appearance.
Danny Welbeck (thigh) remains a doubt, while Jack Wilshere (ankle) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (groin) are still out.
In contrast to their opponents, Villa come into Sunday's meeting woefully out of form in the league, without a win in seven matches since a 2-1 home success over Leicester City in early December.
The mood was lifted slightly by last weekend's 2-1 FA Cup victory over Bournemouth, which included a wonder-strike from new signing Carles Gil.
Villa on Friday confirmed another new arrival in the form of Scott Sinclair, on loan from Manchester City, and manager Paul Lambert hopes the duo will address the dearth of creativity in a side which has scored just 11 Premier League goals this season.
"Carles Gil has come in and given everyone a lift and you're hoping that Scott will have the same impact," Lambert said.
"Talking to him, he's come across as a good guy. If he does what he did at Swansea, we have a really good player."
Lambert has been boosted by the return to training of Ron Vlaar (knee), Fabian Delph (Achilles), Gabriel Agbonlahor and Joe Cole (both hamstring) this week.
Agbonlahor is expected to be fit, while Vlaar and Delph are rated as doubtful but Cole is unlikely to feature. Defender Ciaran Clark is also a concern with an ankle problem.