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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Dec 28, 2007

Clichy confident Arsenal will reclaim top spot

Arsenal defender Gael Clichy is convinced the Gunners will soon be back at the top of the table.

The Londoners travel to Everton tomorrow, having slipped to second following a 0-0 draw at Portsmouth on Boxing Day - the first time all season they have failed to score in the Barclays Premier League.

The Toffees are sure to pose another stern test.

But left-back Clichy is confident of getting a result that would keep the pressure on new leaders Manchester United, who are at West Ham, or even be enough to go top again.

He said: 'It's a shame we couldn't stay top until the new year - but that's the way it is. Manchester United are a strong side, Liverpool and Chelsea as well.

'We know the race for the title is going to be tough. United went in front of us - but let's do a good job at Everton at the weekend. We can be first again in the new year. It would be great for us and for the fans.'

An unexpected defeat at struggling Middlesbrough sowed the first seeds of doubt that Arsenal's march to glory would not be a straightforward one, despite a scintillating start to the campaign.

But Clichy is adamant the players still believe they can overcome every obstacle.

He said: 'When you play for a club like Arsenal you just want to win all the games and be the best at the top level.

'Week in week out, you have to be focused for every game - even in the Carling Cup. You have to be ready because the team needs you. The objective is the same - we have to win, win and win again.'

The Gunners are monitoring the fitness of captain William Gallas, who suffered a foot injury at Fratton Park, and manager Arsene Wenger has already decided not to risk forward Robin van Persie - who has a 'minor muscle problem' - at Goodison Park.

Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp believes the eventual return of the Dutchman, previously sidelined by a knee injury, will be a major boost for the Londoners' hopes of pipping United for the title.

He said: 'It's going to be a tight one, because they're two fantastic sides, and I wouldn't like to pick a winner. Maybe United might just edge it, but it will be a close-run thing.

'Once Van Persie is back they will have the option to play two up and they have got a squad they can rotate, bring people in.'

Meanwhile, out-of-favour goalkeeper Jens Lehmann has been linked with a January switch to Borussia Dortmund.