Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes his side have the chance to confirm their title credentials when they take on Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
Although Arsenal have established a five-point lead at the top of the Premier League, City remain the bookmakers’ favourites to win the title.
However, despite the match coming less than three days after the 2-0 defeat at Napoli, Wenger is confident that the Gunners can secure a positive result at City and transform perceptions of the title race.
“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 to eight [points clear] and it is fantastic. We have to look at it like that.
“I don’t deny that every game has a vital importance in the influence in confidence and 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. Pellegrini is an offensive manager, I am as well, so you should see interesting things on the offensive level.”
Asked whether City have the strongest squad in the Premier League, Wenger said: “I look at my squad and I don’t envy them... I don’t know. 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 also addressed 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, and led to questions over the decision from Mikel Arteta.
“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.”