Wenger on Ox, Kallstrom and title race

Arsene Wenger faced the media shortly after his team beat Crystal Palace 2-0 at Emirates Stadium. Read on for a transcript of the press conference:

on getting the Southampton result 'out of the system'…Yes, we needed to get that out. We needed to get three points and it was difficult because Crystal Palace are a united team, very well-organised with a big physical quality and impact in every challenge. I must say that did that in a fair way but it was very difficult to create space. On our side we needed to be patient, intelligent and use our opportunities that most of the time come in the second half. That's what we did.

on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain…Look, I always believed that he could play wide and central, I said that many times that his future will be central. He has proven me right today, by scoring the goals but also by the quality of his performance. It took him a while to get back. He was injured against Aston Villa on that famous day and it took him a while to get back. Overall I'm pleased that he's now back to full fitness. You could see that he had some cramps in the end, that he is still a bit short.

on Kieran Gibbs…We had some doubts about Gibbs yesterday, still through his calf, but he had a scan which was reassuring. I decided not to take a gamble, but he's alright.

on keeping up with Man City and Chelsea…I will watch that game with interest because it's two competitors against us and it's always interesting to see how they behave. We gained some points through some other opponents like Liverpool and Man United over this weekend, and I think we know that our results at the Emirates will be massively important until the end.

on being in a 'title rhythm'…What I must say is that our defensive stability doesn't create unrest in the team and allows us to continue the way we want to play, even if we don't score early goals, and that's what happened today. At home we don't concede and that of course means you don't have to rush your game too much.

on whether it's a three-horse race…I wouldn't go as far as that. Certainly at the end of February you will be able to assess that.

on Kim Kallstrom…[Being fit at the end of February] is the best-case scenario. I'm sure if you have played football you might have played with a micro-fracture of your vertebra without even noticing it because on a normal scan you don't find out. He might play before that [the end of February] but he might play as well later.

on Kallstrom's wages…Yes [Spartak Moscow will pay Kallstrom's wages before he returns]. They pay the first six weeks' wages.

on considering pulling out of the deal…Yes of course it crossed my mind. I would not have signed him if we had two or three more days to do something, but it was Friday night at five o'clock, so it was [a case of] you [sign] nobody or you do it under these conditions. I decided to do it because we might, because of the number of games we have now in February, we might need the players in March or April. There is a possibility [that he may not play] but as well there is the possibility that he scores us the winning goal that might be vitally important.

At some stage in our job you have to make a decision. Are you wrong or right? You will only know at the end of the season. I made this decision because, since the start of the season, all our central midfielders have missed a part of the season - whether it's Flamini, Wilshere, Arteta, Chamberlain or Cazorla. All of them have had injuries and it can happen that a few of them miss the next part [of the season] together. It's true that in the first four to six weeks we have not sorted that problem out.

on when he considered Kallstrom…It crossed my mind after the [setback] of Ramsey, because everybody says he is back in six weeks but because he had two setbacks who can guarantee that it will not last longer? And after Tuesday night of course, because Wilshere couldn't play [at Southampton]… it was not a 200 per cent need, we could have gone without, but first of all you must identify a player who has the quality to play for us, in January. Then, because we have the number of players needed in that area, not to be locked in a deal of three or four years, where you pay the players to do nothing. So to find a player on a free loan, of that quality, on Wednesday morning until Friday night, is not easy.

on Kallstrom's quality…I know the player very well, personally. He has 108 caps for Sweden and he has played for seven or eight years in France, so I know him very well.

on transfer funds…Look, we are not against spending, but at the moment we are focused on the second part of the season, and at the end of the season we will see what we will do. You have announced a lot of transfers in your papers that have not happened, in many places, that means it is not as easy as it looks, even with money, to buy the right players in that period.

on the strength of the squad now…I face that question since the start of the season, and we are today where we are, and that cannot be a coincidence. You cannot be lucky over 24 games, that is for sure.

on Mikel Arteta…I hope it's not bad, it was a kick but I haven't spoken to him yet.

on being written off in the title race…Because in the last seven years you [the media] have ingrained that in your brain, and it's very difficult to get it out now! I can understand that completely because we haven't done it for a while, and as well I must say that we face quality competitors. We do not play against average teams and Man City have scored over 100 goals, so everybody thinks 'can you beat these teams?' I say yes and that is what we have to show. It's all to do. The only thing I can say is that after 24 games we are there, and it's now about how we finish the season.

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