It's time to step up, Wenger tells team
Manager believes Arsenal's big clash with City today is a golden opportunity to show title credentials
London: Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal have a golden opportunity to underline their title credentials when they host champions Manchester City on Saturday.
Manager Arsene Wenger (second from right) during an Arsenal team training session at the Emirates Stadium. Pic/AFP.
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. 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.
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. “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.”
England striker Danny Welbeck should make his Arsenal debut following his Â£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's a young boy. He can make himself a better player here because I can help him,” Wenger said.
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When Arsenal met City last season...
At the Emirates Stadium: Arsenal 1 Man City 1
At the Etihad Stadium: Man City 6 Arsenal 3
London: Manchester City are without midfielder Fernando (groin) and striker Stevan Jovetic (hamstring) will miss Saturday’s Premier League trip to Arsenal.
Defender Eliaquim Mangala, signed from Porto last month for £32million, and on-loan former England midfielder Frank Lampard are both in contention for debuts after building up their general fitness.
Captain Vincent Kompany is fit after coming through Belgium’s friendly with Australia unscathed despite concerns over a calf injury. -- PA Sport