• Premier League

Mancini: Arsenal are title contenders

ESPN staff
September 22, 2012
Roberto Mancini knows Manchester City will face a tough test © PA Photos

Roberto Mancini believes Arsenal are genuine contenders for the title and thinks they are benefiting from Robin van Persie's departure.

Arsenal visit the Etihad Stadium on Sunday in a meeting of two unbeaten sides who have taken eight points from their first four games.

Arsene Wenger's team have won their last two league games, scoring eight goals, and Mancini feels the sale of their 30-goal top scorer Van Persie has reduced expectations at the Emirates Stadium.

"Arsenal can compete for the title," Mancini said. "I don't know if they are better than last year but there is less pressure. Maybe they can do better than last year for this reason. I think they are a good team."

Van Persie joined Manchester United while Alex Song was sold to Barcelona but Mancini is impressed by the buys Wenger has made.

Lukas Podolski, who has scored in the last three games, Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud arrived in a £40 million spending spree.

And while France international Giroud is yet to open his Arsenal account, Mancini said Wenger has done excellent business in the transfer window.

"They have lost one or two important players like Van Persie and Song but all the players he bought are good players with experience," he added.

"I think Arsenal are very strong on the counter attack. I watched the game against Liverpool [a 2-0 win] and they played really well. They have two important players, Cazorla and Podolski, and Giroud didn't score but is a good player and we should pay attention to him. Their counter attack is very strong."

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