Arsene Wenger feels Arsenal should be positive as they enter the defining period of their season.

The Gunners head to Sunderland on Saturday looking to keep up with fourth-placed Chelsea, the gap now down to just three points following last weekend's results which saw Wenger's men beat Blackburn 7-1 while the Blues were held to a 3-3 draw by Manchester United.

Next week, Arsenal travel to AC Milan for the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie before returning to the Stadium of Light in the FA Cup fifth round on February 18.

With England defender Kieran Gibbs the latest player to return to a squad which has been depleted by injury, Wenger believes the Gunners can come through a make-or-break spell.

"Overall the situation looks a lot more positive in a period that will decide our season and therefore it is good to have the players back," the Arsenal manager said.

"It is that important because in one week we play three games in three different competitions.

"In every single competition we are, of course, in a position where we want to win our games."

Wenger added: "Sunderland are doing well, and we have rebuilt our confidence.

"It is important that we go in a positive mind there and that we come back with three points."

Wenger confirmed Thierry Henry would be returning to New York Red Bulls as planned at the end of his loan spell, meaning the former Gunners skipper will not be around for the visit of arch-rivals Tottenham.

"There is clarification, it will be February 16, the day after Milan," Wenger said.

"I would have loved him to stay two more weeks, but he has to go back.

"He is captain of Red Bulls. Just to appear on the first day of the season would be unfair to them. We accepted at the start that we would release him on February 16, so we respect our word. Thierry as well thinks it would be too late.

"He has a fantastic impact on the squad, was happy to be here and all the players were happy to have him around.

"In training, he looks better every week. He is now back to a fitness level comparable to all the other players.

"The movements of him in training, makes me think it is a shame he does not play for the [France] national team anymore."

Wenger did not make any major moves in what was a relatively static January transfer window.

The Arsenal manager moved to clarify his recent comments in an interview with a Belgian newspaper over the importance of securing a "profit of between 15 and 20million pounds" every season, and that the purpose of a coach is "to always buy at a price he sees fit".

Wenger said: "Do you think the target of the club is to lose money? It cannot last a long time, the target is to make profit.

"It looks to me normal for any company in the world, so I don't know why it is surprising.

"We want to pay the debt we owe from the stadium we built, that's around £15 million. So it's normal that at the start, we have to make at least £15 million or we lose money."

Wenger denied the need to service the debt on the move to Emirates Stadium tied his hands in the transfer market.

"I accept one basic principle for every company that you can spend the money you make," he said.

"It is just natural common sense and mathematical logic that what goes out has to equal what comes in. if that does not work then the company loses money."

Wenger, meanwhile, insisted there would be no chance of Andrey Arshavin leaving for Russia, where the window remains open until the end of the month and reports have emerged of interest from Anzhi Makhachkala and former club Zenit St Petersburg.

The Arsenal manager said: "I expect him to be here after February 24 and that is clear."

Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill has warned his players Arsenal are more than just a one-man team as they prepare for an intriguing double-header.

The Black Cats will put an unbeaten home record under their new manager on the line when the Gunners visit the Stadium of Light on Saturday, seven days before they return in the FA Cup fifth round.

They will do so with Arsenal's Dutch striker Robin van Persie having taken his tally for the season 28 in all competitions with a hat-trick in last Saturday's 7-1 demolition of Blackburn.

However, O'Neill knows his side will have to do more than stop van Persie if they are to emerge with anything to show for their efforts.

He said: "That is too simplistic. They have enough talent in their team.

"They are playing Champions League football next week, which is a credit to them.

"They have qualified once again into the latter stages of the competition, so I am not so sure that one man could just carry that on his own.

"They have talent, they have a bit of pace in their team as well, and their victory last week will give them encouragement and confidence for the rest of the season."

In addition, Sunderland will have to handle an emerging star in the shape of 18-year-old Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who struck twice in the same game to confirm his glittering potential.

O'Neill said: "I saw him play a couple of weeks ago against Leeds United in the FA Cup and I was really impressed with him.

"He's very, very strong, he is very quick, he seems to know what it's all about and for one so young, he looks as if he has got a real future ahead of him."

Arsenal's visit to Wearside is the biggest test for some time of the Black Cats' impressive recovery under the Ulsterman.

A run of just two defeat in 13 games has been capped by an unbeaten sequence of five outings which has brought nine league points and progression to the last 16 in the FA Cup.

But a cautious O'Neill is reluctant to accept that there are no dangers lurking around the corner.

He said: "If you win some matches, you get that confidence that we talked about and self-belief, and those things are pretty important when you are going into football games.

"But there is a difference between having respect for your opponents - which we have to have because we are not really good enough to treat anybody without it - and having a part of the fear removed because you are actually doing okay yourselves.

"That's been the case in point, but we could come unstuck here against Arsenal very, very easily. Other teams have over recent times, so it could be a problem for us.

"But we are going into the game in a great frame of mind, anyway."

O'Neill and opposite number Arsene Wenger are old foes, and the former has great respect for the latter.

He said: "There's a bit of bickering at this moment because they haven't won [a trophy] in the last few years, but he has been a fantastic manager.

"Sometimes in the heat of the moment, things like that might be forgotten, but he has been a great manager for a long, long time and he continues to be so."

That, however, did not stop the pair clashing on the sidelines during O'Neill's reign at Aston Villa, although the 59-year-old insists that is all in the past.

He said with a smile: "That's well and truly forgotten about now. I always have a difference of opinion."

Both O'Neill and Wenger have been mentioned among the candidates to replace Fabio Capello as England boss in recent days, and the former Northern Ireland midfielder is sure to be touted as a possible candidate to replace Harry Redknapp should he leave Tottenham for Soho Square.

However, he is adamant he remains a passive observer.

He said: "Yes, I would be an interested observer outside that."