“There's a feeling that if we get through these next few games well that will strengthen the belief and determination in the team. That will be massive for us of course.”

Arsène had probably forgotten #Wenger1000 even before the milestone had been achieved.

#Arsenal8 was always his concern.

In the next week and a day, the Frenchman leads his side into three huge games. There’s Chelsea (a) this Saturday and Manchester City (h) next weekend. In between it is Swansea (h), their game in hand on the leaders.

Arsenal’s supposed weakness is the ability to beat their fellow title chasers. But, after next weekend, that will not be a factor. April and May is hardly easy but it will include just one game against a side in the top eight – Everton (a).

However this is no time to get ahead of ourselves.

Team News

Arsenal: Rosicky (doubt – ankle), Walcott (knee), Ramsey (thigh), Ozil (hamstring), Wilshere (ankle), Ryo (hamstring), Diaby (knee)

Chelsea: Ramires (suspended), Willian (suspended), Cole (knee), Van Ginkel (knee)

“Look, we lost at Stoke, Chelsea lost at Aston Villa,” warned Wenger. “I think still we have an opportunity to improve our record against the big teams and keep our positive one against the teams who are in the second part of the table. That will be an important part of the success.

“[This is the best title race I have seen] in terms of the number of teams still involved with nine games to go. Eight games for some. That is certainly the closest and the highest number of sides I have seen competing for the Premier League title.

“And, if you listen to my interviews since January, [I have said] the most consistent team, the one who can win a game on the day where they are not at their best, will win it in the end.

“This league is so competitive that anybody can drop points everywhere. Let's just focus on the next game and win it.”

Since that fractious defeat at Villa, Chelsea repaired themselves by beating Galatasaray to move into the last eight of the Champions League. Meanwhile there is precious little to glean from their two games with Arsenal so far this season – a proper stalemate at Emirates Stadium in the Premier League and a Capital One Cup tie in which both sides were significantly altered.

“We will analyse those games but I would give the real importance to the Premier League game – the 0-0,” said Wenger.

“On the day Chelsea were set up to stop us from playing. We didn't manage to create enough to pretend to win the game and that's what it will be like on Saturday.

For us it's about being creative, making chances and, as well, stopping them from playing

“For us it's about being creative, making chances and, as well, stopping them from playing because they have creative players up front who can open you up when you go forward. It is up to us to find that balance between attacking well and defending well. That will decide the game.”

Arsenal have the best away record in the Premier League and go into this game with a record of P8 W7 D1 L0 in London derbies this season, including victory in all four trips across the capital.

“That’s very hard to do because you know that the London derbies are very, very difficult but we have been remarkably consistent,” said Wenger.

However on a weekend of managerial records, the famously forward-looking Frenchman may well swap a significant chunk of his millennium for a first win over Mourinho.

This would be the perfect moment to do it for all sorts of reasons.

Not least #Wenger1000 of course.

Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source
Richard Clarke 21 Mar 2014