Wenger expects ti­tle charge from Arse­nal

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

NOR­WICH: Arene Wenger re­mains con­fi­dent Arse­nal can shake off their in­con­sis­tent form and mount a se­ri­ous chal­lenge for the Premier League ti­tle. Wenger’s side will at­tempt to bounce back from last week­end’s sur­prise loss at West Bromwich Al­bion when they travel to Nor­wich City to­day, five days af­ter keep­ing alive their hopes of reach­ing the Cham­pi­ons League knock­out stages with vi­tal vic­tory over Di­namo Za­greb. With their Euro­pean cam­paign on the back-burner for two weeks, fourth­placed Arse­nal can fo­cus on catching un­ex­pected top-tier lead­ers Le­ices­ter City.

Wenger be­lieves that, with no one team dom­i­nat­ing the ti­tle race so far, his side are still well placed in their bid to be crowned English cham­pi­ons for the first time since 2004. “It is so tight and I don’t even look at the league any­more be­cause it is very, very tight,” Wenger said. “Last week we had a bad re­sult against West Brom and so did Manch­ester City (against Liver­pool) so it com­pacted the whole ta­ble.

“I be­lieve it is a big op­por­tu­nity for us but many teams can tell you that. We are in a po­si­tion where you want to be af­ter 13 games but there are 25 to go. “If there are five or six to go and we are in the race, of course we are con­tenders. I think we have a chance but it is very early. “I know peo­ple al­ways want to know what will hap­pen in the fu­ture but let’s take care of the game to­day.” Arse­nal’s frus­tra­tion at los­ing to West Brom was com­pounded by the fact they took the lead through Olivier Giroud.

Erad­i­cate

But Wenger in­sists this was not an in­di­ca­tion his side re­main vul­ner­a­ble. “You want to erad­i­cate games like that. For us, it was a bad re­sult. “But in the last 38 games when we scored first, and we were 1-0 up, we won 37 times. in the last 25 games be­fore West Brom, when we scored first we won 25 times. You have to con­sider that math­e­mat­i­cally as an accident. “I be­lieve that we gave ev­ery­thing and that can hap­pen. Foot­ball is as well fan­tas­tic be­cause it’s not al­ways pre­dictable.” Arse­nal mid­fielder Fran­cis Co­quelin will again be miss­ing af­ter be­ing ruled out for three months with knee lig­a­ment dam­age, while Mikel Arteta and Theo Wal­cott are also side­lined.

Aaron Ram­sey is in line to make his first start since suf­fer­ing a ham­string prob­lem in late Oc­to­ber and Mathieu Flamini is ex­pected to make only his sec­ond Premier League start of the sea­son. Alex Neil’s Nor­wich side suf­fered a nar­row 1-0 de­feat at Chelsea last time out that left them in 16th place, three points above the rel­e­ga­tion places. But goal­keeper John Ruddy be­lieves there have been enough pos­i­tives in the club’s re­cent per­for­mances to strengthen con­fi­dence ahead of the visit of Arse­nal. “Our per­for­mances at Manch­ester City and Chelsea showed we can frus­trate good teams. Com­ing away from those games dis­ap­pointed with nar­row de­feats is a good sign for us,” he said.

“It’s now about find­ing the bal­ance be­tween be­ing de­fen­sively solid and still caus­ing prob­lems for teams. “There are a lot of points on of­fer at this stage of the sea­son, and we want to pick up as many as pos­si­ble. “That starts to­day for us. If the crowd are be­hind us and we play to our ca­pa­bil­i­ties then I don’t see why we can’t get a re­sult.” Ruddy, 29, will make his 200th ap­pear­ance for the club but ad­mits his dis­plays have been be­low par this sea­son. “Per­son­ally, I don’t think I’ve been as good this sea­son as I have in pre­vi­ous years,” he added. “That’s foot­ball, but form is tem­po­rary. I’m con­fi­dent in my own abil­ity as a goal­keeper be­cause I’ve played at the high­est level.”—AFP

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