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Aug 13, 2012

Wenger: We'll challenge for honours

Arsene Wenger says Arsenal are ready to challenge for honours and are stronger now than they were last summer.

Wenger pleased with Podolski

• Cologne 0-4 Arsenal
• Wenger hopeful over Van Persie

Although speculation continues to swirl around the future of captain and leading goalscorer Robin van Persie - with Manchester United reported to be stepping up attempts to sign him - Wenger has hailed the strength of his squad.

The Frenchman saw Arsenal brush Cologne aside in a 4-0 friendly win on Sunday and said summer signings Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla, coupled with the expected return to fitness of midfielder Jack Wilshere after a long injury lay-off, would lift the Gunners in the hunt for honours.

The North Londoners endured a painful start to the season last time around, with their early results including an 8-2 drubbing at Manchester United, but Wenger said he did not believe they would endure a slow beginning to the new campaign.

He told Arsenal Player: "We want to and we have a desire to [compete for honours]. We are up for it, and we want to come out of the season and know we have given our best. I feel we did that last year, finishing third with the start we had.

"The first target is to do as well as we can in every single game and see where we stand at the end of the season, but of course we want to fight for the championship.

"We are in a much stronger position now because last summer we lost [Samir] Nasri and [Cesc] Fabregas, and on top of that we lost [Abou] Diaby and Wilshere. We lost four players at the start of last season, and that is not the case this time.''

Podolski impressed against Cologne, starting the match and scoring a brace, and said: "I have felt part of Arsenal from the first day, and to score in my first match was great. I need another two weeks to be fully ready.

"It was a great match and I scored two goals, so it was very good. It was a good test for us, and I hope we can win against Sunderland next week."

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