Arsene Wenger Challenges Arsenal F.C. to Show Title Credentials
Arsene Wenger's side had a dismal record against the Premier League's top clubs last season and humiliating defeats at Chelsea, Liverpool and City ended the Gunners' hopes of challenging for their first English crown since 2004.
Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal have a golden opportunity to underline their title credentials when they host champions Manchester City on Saturday. (Ribery rules out France return)
Wenger's side had a dismal record against the Premier League's top clubs last season and humiliating defeats at Chelsea, Liverpool and City ended the Gunners' hopes of challenging for their first English crown since 2004. (Danny Welbeck's move to Arsenal strange, says Gary Neville)
But the Arsenal manager believes his team's performance in recovering to secure a 2-2 draw after falling two goals behind at Everton last month highlighted their greater resilience this season. (Daniel Sturridge injury infuriates Brendan Rodgers)
And a win against Manuel Pellegrini's side at the Emirates Stadium would, in Wenger's view, confirm his players are ready to face the main title contenders on equal terms. (Luis Suarez likely to make La Liga debut vs Real Madrid)
"It's a good opportunity to show that we have improved on that front," Wenger said.
"We have now got the opportunity to show that we have grown as a team, that we are more mature and ready for the fight. Let's do it.
"I don't think that this game is very important for us mathematically just because we dropped points away from home at Everton and Leicester.
"But it gives us credibility and confidence if we do well. It's a big game and for us it is a home game as well.
"We had a decent start in the Premier League but of course we dropped some points and we have a good opportunity at home to play against Manchester City and get the three points."
- Greatest threat -
England striker Danny Welbeck should make his Arsenal debut following his £16 million ($26 million) move from Manchester United on transfer deadline day.
Welbeck scored twice for England in their 2-0 Euro 2016 qualifying victory in Switzerland this week and Wenger is confident he can bring the best out of a player not rated by United manager Louis van Gaal.
"He can make himself a better player here because I can help him," Wenger said.
"He's a young boy, he's not 24 yet and let's not forget that some players who arrived here at the age of 23 made huge careers here so I hope we can contribute and help him."
Arsenal will assess injuries to key midfielders Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil, who both have ankle problems.
Meanwhile, City defender Pablo Zabaleta has singled out Alexis Sanchez as the key man to stop. Sanchez joined the Gunners from Barcelona for £35 million in the close-season and Zabaleta reckons the Chile winger will pose the greatest threat to City.
"Sanchez is a very quick, sharp player who can play wide or as a striker but I feel he is most dangerous when he is on the flanks," he said.
"He did very well at Barcelona and he is a difficult player because you know you are in for a tough afternoon when you face him.
"He also works very hard for the team, especially when they don't have the ball and he has become a very important player for Chile so he is a great signing for Arsenal."
Argentina international Zabaleta also believes City's players have regained much of their match sharpness as they look to respond from a shock 1-0 home defeat to Stoke City last time out.
"We are much stronger than we were a month ago and we will continue to improve and get back into our stride as each game goes by," he added.
"That said, Arsenal are a very good team and it is always a hard game at the Emirates.
"They have improved their squad and brought in some great players to strengthen their title bid, but we are looking to bounce back after the Stoke defeat and we will go there to win three points."
City have doubts over the fitness of Montenegro striker Stevan Jovetic (hamstring) and Brazilian midfielder Fernando (groin).