Arsene Wenger targets Premier League title for Arsenal within three years
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes that he can lead the Gunners to Premier League glory again within the next three years.
Wenger signed a new, three-year contract in May shortly after winning the FA Cup, and insists that claiming a fourth league championship for Arsenal during that period is a realistic target.
Arsenal are currently seventh in the Premier League table, 13 points behind London rivals Chelsea, who remain on course to emulate the Gunners' achievement of winning the title unbeaten.
That triumph in the 2003-04 season was the last of Arsenal's three league titles under Wenger. Since then, the Gunners have been unable to break the hegemony of Manchester United, the competition's most successful club, or the financially powerful duo of Chelsea and Manchester City at the top of the table.
Arsenal host Southampton on Wednesday evening, at the same time as Chelsea welcome Tottenham Hotspur to Stamford Bridge, and Wenger hinted at a belief that his side may even have a chance of catching the Blues in this season's title race.
Asked if his current side could lift the title between now and 2017, when his current deal expires, he told reporters: "Of course. We have not started very well, but we never had the squad together since the start of the season. It was a post-World Cup start typically.
"I think we have what is requested to do it. We have to fight like mad now to come back as much as possible to show that we can compete in every single game."
Arsenal have not finished in the top two since the season after their last title, and have often left it late in recent years before securing fourth place and with it a place in the Champions League. However, the past several years have seen them involved in title races only to see them fall away in the second half of the campaign.
As such, Wenger knows that Chelsea's six-point lead over defending champions City after 13 matches could count for nothing in the final reckoning.
"We have fought many times for the title," he said. "People always remember who won it, but the fight has been very tight for long periods in the last eight or nine years.
"We have a big competition in England, we have to accept that. The Premier League level goes always up and this season Chelsea have started very well. They will be difficult to catch, but everybody will fight to come back on them. After 13 or 14 games, you cannot say that the title race is over. You cannot say that is not catchable."