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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

50-50 Challenge
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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

50-50 Challenge
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By ESPN Staff

Wenger to make decision on future soon

Arsene Wenger intends to make a decision on his future 'before the end of August' to avoid speculation becoming 'a handicap' on Arsenal's bid to regain the Barclays Premier League title. The Frenchman has yet to announce whether he will extend his current contract, which expires at the end of the season. The Arsenal board have already declared their intention to retain the services of the man who has revolutionised the club since arriving in September 1996 for the long term. Wenger, though, does not want the focus deflected from the team's battle to again become the dominant force of English football. 'It will be soon, two weeks or three weeks,' he said. 'The degrees of soon are the speed of the negotiations of the contract. There are always two parties in that and you cannot always decide, also sometimes the lawyers are on holiday, so you wait one more week. For me that is not a big problem. 'There is a need to do that before the end of August because I do not want that to be a handicap for the success of the team, that it could be used to question a little bit the success of the team.' Wenger added: 'I do not want my players to find this kind of excuses. 'I have a responsibility towards the fans, the players, the club. I have worked here for 10 years, and I want to stand up for that. 'I know that it is something important.' Arsenal kick off the new domestic season again Fulham at Emirates Stadium at noon tomorrow, before then heading to the Czech Republic for the first leg of the Champions League third-round qualifier. Wenger admits Arsenal will be 'different' this season without Thierry Henry. However, the Gunners boss maintains his young squad can emerge to challenge the dominance of Manchester United and Chelsea. 'There is a big contrast with the feeling outside our squad and the strength of belief we have within the club,' said Wenger. 'I read in the papers that everybody writes us off, but I feel they are wrong. 'We may have been less busy with names on the market, but what is important is how you perform on the pitch - and I believe we have enough quality to do that. 'We have worked with the team, to blossom. Manchester United and Liverpool have gone for a different policy. Chelsea have kept stability this year without spending a lot, that is new. So let's see who wins in the end.' Wenger added: 'I believe in what I am doing and what I am seeing here at the training ground every day, but I can understand people question that. 'I want to prove to people that this team is exceptional and then I want to prove people who do not believe in us are wrong.' One player set to be key to Arsenal's hopes of success next season is midfielder Cesc Fabregas. The 20-year-old Spaniard feels Emirates Stadium is the right place for him to be now, having once again rejected the overtures from Real Madrid this summer. Fabregas was quoted in the Spanish media as admitting he spoke to Real's president Ramon Calderon and sport director Predrag Mijatovic about their interest, but decided to remain at Arsenal. However, Wenger insisted: 'I did not allow Fabregas to talk to anybody. He denies he did. 'If you can get the statement he has done that and that Real Madrid, more than ever, has done that, then we will sue Real Madrid. 'His agent might have spoken to Real Madrid. 'But Real Madrid are not entitled to do it without our permission. 'You expect other clubs to behave in a fair way when you have players under contract.'