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Trophy drought means it’s right to doubt Arsenal title tilt, insists Wenger

Arsene Wenger, Arsenal manager. Photo: Steve Drew/EMPICS Arsene Wenger, Arsenal manager. Photo: Steve Drew/EMPICS

Monday, December 23, 2013
7:45 AM

Arsene Wenger believes it is right for people to question his Arsenal side’s title credentials because they have not won the Premier League for nine years.

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The Gunners were knocked off the top spot by Liverpool who beat Cardiff City 3-1 on Saturday, but they can return there on tonight if they beat London rivals Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium.

Yet after a heavy 6-3 defeat to fellow title challengers Manchester City in their last league outing, questions have been raised whether the north Londoners will last the course.

Asked if it was right that people doubted Arsenal despite their strong start to the season, Wenger said: “Yeah, of course, because we haven’t won it for a while, that’s why they question us.

“If you win the League Cup it doesn’t change anything. It’s the Premier League that is the most important thing and we haven’t won it for nine years.

“Of course [not winning it] doesn’t strengthen your belief. If you win it every year you go in there [thinking] ‘it’s ours’.

“It makes the challenge more interesting.”

He added: “At the moment everybody still questions that – even more after our defeat at City.

“I see the game at City the other way around as well. We can have even more belief.

“Quite amazingly, despite the fact we conceded goals, [the Manchester City match] was not all negative because we could have scored six as well, so on the offensive front we have shown that we have huge potential.

“I believe that we should come out of that game even stronger in our belief, even stronger in our resolute attitude, because we have shown until now that we can be very strong defensively, and as well on the day we have shown that we can be dangerous against anybody.

“We can rectify the defensive problem, but that’s what we want to show against Chelsea.”

To reclaim top spot in the land Wenger must engineer his first ever win against a Jose Mourinho side at the 10th time of asking.

But the Frenchman puts much of that poor record down to the circumstances of the two teams over the last decade.

In his first spell at Stamford Bridge Mourinho inherited a strong Chelsea team, hitting their peak and backed by the early free spending of billionaire owner Roman Abramovich.

Arsenal, on the other hand, moved into their current stadium in 2006 and had to be frugal with their spending - until this season.

“For a while, Chelsea were stronger than us. We shouldn’t accept it but it was a reality,” Wenger said, adding; “People only keep in their mind the big matches where we lose. We have won some big games.

“If you want to win the Premier League then you want to win the big games at home, it’s as simple as that.”

Indeed, if Chelsea win on Monday they could leapfrog Arsenal and leave them sitting in fourth.

Wenger said: “It adds pressure, yes, but you cannot play in the Premier League without pressure.

“There are periods where the pressure is a bit bigger, periods where it’s a bit smaller but you have to live with that and resist that kind of stress.”

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