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Sep 29, 2012

Wenger plays down Blues' triumph

Arsene Wenger said that success in the Premier League - rather than the Champions League - is the true gauge of quality ahead of Arsenal's meeting with Chelsea on Saturday.

• Arsenal v Chelsea preview
• Usmanov: Arsenal sales must stop

The Gunners face their London rivals in an intriguing encounter at Emirates Stadium on Saturday as both sides look to enhance their title credentials after making encouraging starts to the new campaign.

Wenger has added some spice to the contest by suggesting the Champions League - won last year by the Blues in dramatic fashion in Munich - is easier to win than England's domestic championship.

"In the Champions League, you play one big game at a time. In the Premier League you play many big teams and you have to do well against all of them," Wenger said. "I still think the Premier League is the massive test."

The Frenchman believes a lot of things came together at the right time for Roberto Di Matteo and his team last season.

"One piece of luck Chelsea had last season was Didier Drogba in the first part of the season did not play a lot," he said. "He came into it in the second half of the season and he made the decision; he was fresh, focused, had a good rest and still hungry to make it happen and he had the quality to do it.

"If you tell me would you like to win the Champions League I will of course say yes, but it's a cup competition - not at the start, but in the final part of it, it is a real cup competition.

"You need to go into March and April with your best players available, fit, and that's not easy, especially when you play in the Premier League."

Wenger insisted that he was happy to see an English side win Europe's premier club competition, however - noting that it showed the strength of the domestic game, especially if a side that finished sixth in the league, as Chelsea did last season, could win it all.

"I am proud that Premier League teams win it - that a Premier League team wins the Champions League is fantastic," he said. "You can say to people that the team who finished sixth in this league can win the European Cup. It's absolutely fantastic for the Premier League.

"Maybe they have a generation who have arrived slowly at the end and they were in a position to bring in some young players and they wanted to change a little bit their style - that's obvious in their choice of players.

"They had a bunch of players like Cole, Terry, Drogba, Lampard, Cech who have gone through thick and thin in the Champions League but in the end they managed to do it because they accumulated the experience and efficiency.

"If you go into a final you want to win the trophy and they played against Barcelona in the semi-final and they had not much choice and had to try to do what you can when you have the ball. But they did it, and you have to give them credit for that."

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