x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Wenger: the championship is ours to win

The Arsenal coach ominously believes best is yet to come after an inconsistent first half to the campaign.

Arsene Wenger insists Arsenal are in the best shape to land the Premier League title since they last won it in 2004.

Despite missing a chance to go into the New Year level on points with Manchester United and Manchester City - the Gunners were held to a draw by Wigan Athletic on Wednesday - Wenger maintains the championship is still Arsenal's to win.

Arsenal remain third, two points behind United, who have a game in hand on them, although they have played a game less than City.

Wenger is backing his young side to win at St Andrew's today against a Birmingham City side who held United to a 1-1 draw three days ago and then to overcome City on Wednesday at the Emirates Stadium.

Wenger said: "It is Arsenal's title to win. We have to go on a run and be consistent but the team is stronger and mature than it has been.

"After we won the league last time it is fair to say we have gone through a re-shaping process at a time when we also had the massive financial impact of moving stadium.

"We have had to remain strong especially when we have suffered criticism for not winning silverware."

That is something that has been thrown at Wenger regularly of late, with the FA Cup win in 2005 the last trophy to be won by the club.

However, Wenger believes his work in developing young players will be rewarded.

"I always had faith in the young players coming through," he said. "We have had to be patient but we know we can see them growing. Whether we can be consistent enough to win it remains to be seen but I do think we have the quality to do so."

Consistency has arguably been Arsenal's weakness and was summed up this week. They were magnificent in beating Chelsea 3-1, but two days later an admittedly weaker side, caused by Wenger's decision to rest players, squandered two points at Wigan.

Home losses to West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United have also been costly, as Wenger acknowledged.

"The only thing we have learned from this first six months is that the team who will be the most consistent, with great emotional stamina and resolve, will win it," he said. "If you make it as simple as you can, our away record is fantastic and our home record needs improvement.

"Recently we have seen that at home we are much more efficient than at the start of the season where we had some hiccups."

But ominously for the rest of the league, Wenger believes that the best is yet to come for his side, especially with players such as Robin van Persie and Cesc Fabregas, the team captain, returning after spells out with injury.

"I feel the team is really on the right track on the belief, on the quality of our game," he said.

"We have made huge improvements and there is a lot more to come from this team.

"We have the individual quality and we have to take more initiative on the communication side."



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