Arsene Wenger says Arsenal on same level as Manchester City
LONDON -- Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has encouraged his players to believe they are a match for Manchester City when they take on the Premier League champions at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
The Gunners have a woeful record against their rivals at the top end of the Premier League over the last couple of years and that is especially true away from home, after heavy defeats at Chelsea, Liverpool and in their most recent visit to City.
Yet Wenger is talking up his side's hopes of success this weekend as he suggests one big victory could transform the image of his team.
"Let's see on Sunday, but I believe, yes, we are on a level [with City]," he said. "Winning big games makes you stronger and we should not question our potential to do it. We just have to turn up with the right level of performance.
"It is true that in the last two or three years that our record in these games is not good, but if you look at my record over my 18 years as Arsenal manager, it will be very good. Sometimes it depends on how the fixtures fall, sometimes confidence level at the time. I believe there is no reason why we cannot believe we will do well against the top teams."
Wenger went on to admit he is struggling to find the defender who can enhance his squad in this transfer window, but he admits it is "too risky" to try and get to the end of the season with his current squad.
Mathieu Debuchy's absence for the next three months means Wenger is short of defensive options if he picks up any more injuries, but he concedes the battle to find defenders in the January window is tougher than ever.
"Believe me, we would have bought a defender by now if there was one to buy, but we don't find one yet," he told reporters.
"We are not the only one in the world with this problem. We have targets, but this is not a supermarket where you go in and buy a defender. It is a market that is very restricted and the players that can improve the 10 best teams in Europe, you don't find many. It's the same for everybody.
"Arsenal is a big attraction, of course we are. If it was easy [to sign a defender], we would do it. We have made enquiries, but who wants to sell a central defender in the middle of the season? They say come back in June or July and maybe we will sell.
"We have lost Debuchy, who could play centre-back and if we have another injury or two it is risky. It's too risky not to try and sign someone."
Meanwhile, Wenger suggested the detailed analysis of every aspect of the game by television pundits is not always helpful to modern players, as he believes the criticism offered up after poor performances magnifies errors made during a game.
"Every game lost is a crisis for a club and what has changed is the players are under much more stress and pressure than they were 10 or 15 years ago," he believes. "Everything is analysed, every movement of every defender is analysed on television just after the game.
"The players open the television and they have three commentators. One asks: 'Why did he move on the right and not on the left.' That was not the case before.
"This is a price to pay for the popularity of the sport. We have the good sides and we have to take the bad sides as well. People want to be informed and we over-analyse because the demand is there for it."