Arsene Wenger hails 'consistent' Arsenal after Everton win

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger praised his players for their recovery from a dreadful start to the season after they beat Everton to move into the top four.

The Gunners lost four of their opening seven Premier League matches but have since taken 22 of a possible 24 points.

"We had a very bad start but now we are consistent," Wenger said following the 1-0 victory over Everton.

"Our spirit is good, we're focused. Consistency is highly needed. If we can maintain that we have a good chance."

Arsenal's win sees them move above Chelsea into fourth place, with the Blues hosting leaders Manchester City on Monday.

It continues their fine turnaround since a 2-1 defeat at Tottenham on 2 October, which left them 15th with seven points from as many games and a goal difference of minus six.

"In some press conferences I had to say we would not play for relegation so you could not predict that we would be where we are today," Wenger said.

"It is a virtual top four at the moment because, if Chelsea win on Monday, they will be in front of us.

"What is important for us is that we started from so deep that nobody could have predicted that, at the beginning of December, we would be where we are now.

"We have to keep going because we are still far away. The only thing you can do is focus on the next game and prepare the team well.

"We have a big game next Sunday [at Manchester City], that will be a test for us but we have a week to prepare. It will be a good test to see where we are."

Arsenal looked to be heading for a second successive home draw in the league after wasting a succession of first-half chances.

Everton tightened up in the second half and had gained control of the match before Robin van Persie scored a spectacular winner on 70 minutes.

The Dutchman volleyed home from Alex Song's cross-field pass for his 33rd league goal this calendar year, three shy of the record set by Alan Shearer in 1995.

"We got out of jail with a fantastic goal," Wenger continued. "He got us an exceptional goal at the moment of the game where we struggled a little bit to create chances.

"He delivered something special and three important points. Robin said himself he did not have his best game, but what is important is that you are efficient.

"It is a tradition in football that the goalscorers always get the plaudits but I must say Robin deserves that because he has always been remarkably consistent."

It was a fitting way for Arsenal to mark their 125th anniversary, although Wenger said the club's pre-match celebrations affected his team's concentration.

"I felt it was disturbing," he said. "You want the club to honour greats but, on day of game, it is not easy for the players to keep their mind on the match."

Wenger laughed off suggestions that following Friday's unveiling of statues to honour Herbert Chapman, Tony Adams and Thierry Henry, he would be next in line.

"I don't need one [a statue]," the Frenchman added. "I just want to do well for my club, that's enough.

"What I am worried about is that we have a few to build - there were some great players who have played here, so around the stadium could be full of statues!"