Arsene Wenger has insisted it is too early to suggest the Premier League title race is a three-way battle between Manchester City, Chelsea and his Arsenal side.
With Manchester United falling nine points behind Wenger’s league leaders last weekend, the odds on the champions defending their crown have slipped, yet the Frenchman is not convinced David Moyes’ side can be written out of the title picture yet.
“The bookies have an opinion that you can understand because they just look at the table. I wouldn’t rule some other teams out like Manchester United,” he said. “It’s a bit early to make any prediction on the championship.
“What is at stake for us is to keep the consistency that we have shown to know. We have a very difficult month in front of us and if we can maintain the quality in our game, our concentration and our solidarity level, then we have a good chance.”
Wenger insisted his focus has not switched to big matches on the horizon -- the Gunners face Napoli in the Champions League next week, before vital Premier League clashes against Manchester City and Chelsea -- as his first target is to get another three points when Hull come to Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night.
“We know that if we want to be successful we need to be at our best in the next game, I don’t see beyond that at the moment,” he stated. “All these other games have no meaning if we are not successful against Hull.
“They have done very well. They look to play in a positive way and they have nothing to lose when they come to us. They have just beaten Liverpool in a very convincing way and that give us a good warning. We had a good warning before we went to Cardiff and now we have another good warning.”
Wenger went on to insist he is not concerned that club captain Thomas Vermaelen will look to leave the club in the January transfer window, despite his lack of playing time in the Arsenal first team this season.
“If he wants to do that [move in January], he will come and see me, but he has not done that,” Wenger added. “Yes [it is tough to leave him out] because of his quality, his attitude and his influence at the club. It is a difficult decision because he is a top-class player. He certainly suffers, but he handles it with great dignity and great professionalism.”