Football

Wenger: too early for title talk

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger feels his side must focus on maintaining their consistency before turning their attention to a late challenge for the Premier League after dismantling goal-shy Aston Villa 5-0 at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

The Gunners recorded a third straight league victory to close up on the top four, and capitalise on last Saturday's draw between leaders Chelsea and champions Manchester City.

Arsenal were without leading scorer Alexis Sanchez because of a hamstring problem, but showed they are far from a one-man team.

Yet, despite the convincing way in which lacklustre Villa were despatched - with goals from Olivier Giroud, Mesut Oezil, Theo Walcott, a Santi Cazorla penalty and a stoppage-time effort from Hector Bellerin - Wenger knows there remains plenty of hard work ahead.

"It is too early to say (Arsenal can still make a challenge for the title)," the Frenchman said.

"We are 11 points behind - that means they need to lose four games and we need to win four. I believe that we should try to be consistent and see what happens. We have maybe found a better consistency, that will be very important until the end.

"Let's show that we can win more and it shows you as well that when the confidence level is higher and when everybody's back defensively, it makes a difference."

Wenger added: "Our offensive game was good, even though I believe we had some weaker periods in the game when Aston Villa were in possession.

"We always looked dangerous when we got their lines and defensively we were sound as well. Overall, it is a positive day for us."

Arsenal signed centre half Gabriel Paulista last week from Villarreal, and the Brazilian was among the unused substitutes.

Wenger is not expecting a hectic final 24 hours of the transfer window.

"I don't think I will be busy," he said. "We have done what we wanted and, unless there is a huge surprise and somebody calls me, then why not? (But) at the moment, nothing. It's very quiet."

Villa boss Paul Lambert, meanwhile, was left with plenty of thinking to do following another poor display, his side having last scored a Premier League goal against Manchester United on Dec 20 - more than 600 minutes of football ago.

He said: "You probably can't print the things I am thinking. We have been in this position for too long since I have been here.

"We do finishing and crossing in training every Friday but, when it comes onto the pitch, you have to do it then."

Lambert, whose side are just three points above the drop zone, added: "I didn't think we deserved to lose 5-0. However, it is the score so we have to take it, but it is not good enough." 
- PA Sport.