Arsene Wenger praised his players for the recent sequence of results that has seen Arsenal unbeaten in their last five out of six games. The Gunners manager has been on record to say that confidence goes quickly and returns slowly, and as Stoke prepare to visit the Emirates for another crucial Premiership fixture, Wenger has seen a gradual turnaround in fortunes after a disastrous start to the season. Of course there remains a long way to go, but for Wenger the form of Robin Van Persie and Thomas Vermaelen’s future commitment to north London has added to a new found confidence.

” We want to win the game on Sunday, we want to improve the quality of the game. Lets focus on defending well, it’s down to our results. What is important is that we have consistency, focus, then it’s down to us,” said Wenger who also spoke of his happiness at Vermaelen’s decision to continue at Arsenal, when greater riches on offer elsewhere, have tempted other former players . ” I’m happy that he’s back and extended his contract,” reflected the Arsenal boss.

The prospect of Per Mertersacker alongside Vermaleen is one that all Arsenal fans have been waiting to see, and that should come within the next couple of weeks. On his giant German, Wenger observed, ” I feel he is a good organiser, he understands the game, and we now look less nervous at the back, and he adds to that. I expect him to score from offensive set pieces.”

Wenger has a right back conundrum to solve, with either Laurent Koscielny of Johan Djourou getting the nod with injuries to Bacary Sagna and Carl Jenkinson not helping his preparations for Sunday’s clash. Djourou is expected to get the nod, and especially after his fine outing at that position in Marseille where his cross set up Arsenal’s late winner for Aaron Ramsey.

With George Graham coming out with his public criticism of Andrey Arshavin, Wenger defended his Russian player and spoke of his good attitude towards the game. His captain Robin Van Persie has been in the form of his life and one only hopes that will continue.

” In the finishing, he’s the most influential player. The dressing room has a very good focus and attitude, but we still have some ground to make up.

” Stoke is a good team, especially offensively they have potential, they go for a more direct game. At home we have always done well against them.”

Summing up the results so far, Wenger said, ” The spirit is there, the attitude is there, the possession is there. We have some room for improvement in the final third and that will come with confidence.”

Given the fractured history between the two sides, Wenger and all Arsenal fans would like nothing better than a resounding win from fine attacking football, to show one and all how to play the game in the right spirit and the right manner.