Arsene Wenger confident his new-look Arsenal can get back to winning ways at Sunderland
Arsene Wenger admits Arsenal's dismal start to the season means the club's longer term targets for this season have been put on hold. The Gunners signed off for the international break with a 2-1 defeat at rivals Tottenham Hotpsur in the north London derby, a result that meant they have lost four of their opening seven Premier League games.
New signing Mikel Arteta's form will be crucial for Arsenal
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Now Wenger's side return to action with a home fixture against Steve Bruce's Sunderland on Sunday in a game that brings together two managers who are already under pressure with less than a fifth of the season gone.
The Arsenal manager accepts that with just seven points -- the club's worst start for 37 years -- any talk of winning silverware or securing a top four finish must be put on hold until his side has developed some kind of momentum.
"It is seven games played, we have had some difficult away games. "I am convinced we have good potential, we have rebuilt the team and of course we were a bit disturbed at the start of the season for different reasons," Wenger said.
"But we just want to focus on short term at the moment, we are not in a position to make long-term plans."
Arsenal would normally feel confident of claiming three points off a Sunderland side that has been plagued by inconsistency.
But the recent run of form has damaged Arsenal's confidence. "I don't know how many games we can afford to lose, that depends not only on us but the other teams," Wenger added. "We need to be consistent, that is what we need.
Nobody can tell you today how many games you can lose to be in the top four, but you need to be consistent with positive results. We know that, and that is what we want to achieve in the next games." Wenger's mood will be lifted by positive news about central defender Thomas Vermaelen who is making good progress in his recovery from an ankle injury.