Kolo Toure has warned Arsenal's critics they should not be ruled out of the Barclays Premier League title race so early in the season.
Manchester United visit Emirates Stadium on Saturday and Toure has demanded his injury-ravaged Gunners view the seismic showdown as a statement of intent.
Storm clouds have gathered over Ashburton Grove as Arsenal's season threatens to unravel following a difficult week in which they dropped four Premiership points.
A frustrating goalless Champions League draw with Fenerbahce failed to dispel the gloom but Toure believes victory over Sir Alex Ferguson's side would galvanise their faltering campaign.
"Beating Manchester United would definitely turn things around for us,'' he said.
"A win would be really fantastic for us and would show that we'd be there for the title. But it's not a must-win, it's just another game.
"We know that the Premier League is really long, we are not in the second half yet.
"We just need to take it as a really important game and show United and those big clubs that we are there to fight for the title.
"It's going to be a good game and we will show them we are still in the race for the title.
"We are fourth at the moment. We are six points behind but the season is really long. We just need to play game by game and win matches.''
United will be licking their lips at the chance to play an Arsenal side blunted by the absence of Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie.
Adebayor is out for three weeks with an ankle injury while van Persie begins a three-match ban for his red card against Stoke.
With Theo Walcott a doubt because of his shoulder injury, Arsene Wenger is short on options and might have to use the rookie partnership of Nicklas Bendtner and Carlos Vela.
But Toure is confident the duo will repay Wenger's faith when called upon.
"The younger players have shown that they can handle the pressure. When the boss gives them the chances, they score,'' he said.
"Vela scored three goals against Sheffield United (in the Carling Cup). It wasn't a really easy game and he showed he is a good striker. He is progressing really well.
"Bendtner is doing really well too, he is doing his best at the moment.
"Obviously he didn't score against Fenerbahce but I think on Saturday if he gets a chance he will do it.
"The United defenders are a good test. It's up to them to show now that it doesn't matter against who they play, they can take their chances.''
Arsenal were accused of being spineless following their 2-1 defeat by Stoke but Toure is unperturbed by the criticism.
"We just rely on our playing. We try to play with our quality. We try to pass the ball,'' he added.
"Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I think we showed a great spirit against Fenerbahce, even if we didn't win the game.''