• Premier League

Wenger: Pressure is on Manchester City

ESPN staff
December 13, 2013
ESPNFC: Manchester City v Arsenal

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes his side will be presented with an opportunity to confirm their title credential when they take on Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

Even though Arsenal have established a five point lead at the top of the Premier League, City remain the bookies favourites to win the title, yet Wenger has suggested a win against Manuel Pellegrini's men will transform the landscape of the title race.

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Maintaining fatigue will not be an issue less than three days after his side turned in a below-par performance their Champions League defeat to Napoli, Wenger was in bullish mood as he prepared for what could be one of the defining fixtures in his side's season.

"This is a game where we can make a difference with everybody," Wenger said. "We want to be ourselves, with our quality, our spirit, our attitude and we want to get the result.

"We need a strong defensive performance and maybe the best way to do that is to attack, for us to have the ball and not allow them to have their flow. We play early, have an opportunity to go from five [point lead] to eight and it is fantastic. We have to look at it like that.

"I don't deny that every game has a vital important in the influence in confidence on belief on the team. What you want from your team is to show a huge level of commitment and belief as that can make a massive difference.

"We like to score goals, we like to go forward, but City can do that as well. [Manuel] Pellegrini is an offensive manager, I am as well, so you should see interesting things on the offensive level."

Wenger was pressed on the theory that City boasts the strongest squad in the Premier League, as he suggested a team ethic was just as valuable as a collection of expensively assembled stars.

"I look at my squad and I don't envy them," Wenger said. "I don't know [if City has the strongest squad]. What is important is how well you play together. We have done very well since the start of the season. City has a strong squad, I don't deny that, but so do we.

"What is good is we can influence [opinions] and that's what we want to do. If we win [at City], it will have an influence on some people, of course.

"We have a positive pressure. I'm convinced we believe in ourselves no matter what happens, but in City's position, if they lose, they go nine points behind. That is a negative pressure."

Wenger went on to address the issue of his side's game at City being moved to a lunchtime kick-off on Saturday, which puts pressure on his players so soon after their Champions League trip to Naples.

"To be completely honest, if you give the opportunity [to arrange fixtures], I would not do it like that, but I do not complain," Wenger said. "It is not an excuse. We have the fixtures we have. We have an opportunity to show we can deal with it, that we have the mental strength to deal with it."

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