Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal have the quality to claim a first Premier League crown since 2003-04 but has challenged his players to maintain their form over the course of the title race.
The Gunners have suffered a number of near-misses since they last scaled the summit of English football, habitually faltering at inopportune moments.
They were runners-up to surprise champions Leicester City last season in a campaign that underwhelmed significant sections of Arsenal’s fanbase, who had the knives out for Wenger once again when Liverpool won 4-3 at Emirates Stadium on the opening weekend this time around.
Since then, his side are unbeaten in 11 matches across all competitions, winning their last seven ahead of a home game against Middlesbrough on Saturday.
“We have the squad [to win the title], yes and we have to show that we have the quality to maintain the energy in the team for 10 months,” he told a pre-match news conference.
“It will depend on the players and on me, also a little bit on the injury side.
“We finished second last season so it was not a disastrous season but we have to give credit to Leicester, they lost only three games last year and that is why they finished on top.
“Of course we want to do better but we have learnt a lot from last year. After January we have improved a lot and our results have been quite consistent.
“The desire and hunger to do well is there and we have to maintain that.”
After Leicester’s remarkable triumph, Wenger acknowledged the established order appear to be reassuming their grip on the Premier League, with Arsenal behind Manchester City at the summit on goal difference as Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea lie in close pursuit.
“Before the season everybody was saying it could be a very tight, interesting challenge,” he said.
“After the first two or three games, people felt that City would run away with it but I believe we are all in the same pack. It’s down to being consistent and just trying to focus game after game.
“You have to make the points and find solutions in every single game, ready to be focused for 90 minutes. Now from Man City to United, Chelsea, everybody has a chance.”
City threatened to romp clear during the opening weeks of the season but Pep Guardiola’s side are now winless in four matches at home and abroad, suffering a humiliating 4-0 defeat on their coach’s return to Barcelona in midweek.
“I believe that City are a fantastic team who will challenge for the Premier League,” Wenger added.
“They have maybe a little bit less wins in recent games but it doesn’t change the fact that they will be one of the sides to beat in the Premier League if you want to win the league.”
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