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By ESPN Staff

Wenger: League harder than ever

Arsene Wenger is in no doubt the Premier League is the toughest it has ever been as he looks to keep Arsenal top of the table against title rivals Manchester United on Monday night.

• Man Utd v Arsenal preview
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The Gunners have been beaten four times already, but still returned to the summit last weekend after victory over Fulham when United's game at Blackpool was postponed and Chelsea dropped more points.

However, this campaign has seen teams right through the league produce match-winning performances on their day, meaning no one can be complacent in a season where unpredictability has become a welcome trend.

Wenger insists this is down to the improvement of squads across the board, rather than the leading sides having dropped standards.

"I don't agree with the people who say that the overall quality of the league is lower this season. In fact, you can say exactly the reverse," the Arsenal manager said.

"Last Monday night, two quality teams - Aston Villa and Liverpool - met and both sides were in the bottom half, so that opinion is not really proven by concrete facts.

"The whole Premier League is more difficult for everybody and what you call mid-table teams and bottom-table teams have improved - every single game today is a cup game for everybody."

Wenger, though, admits surprise Arsenal are still in such a strong position given the number of points they have dropped, losing three games at home.

"We are top of the table at the moment, and at the start of the season if you had said we would lose four of our first 16 games, I would not have thought we would be top, that is for sure," the Gunners boss reflected.

"It means the other teams have lost games as well, apart from Manchester United, but they have had many draws. We have not had many draws, and have won five games away. The positive thing is that if we manage to add home consistency to our away form, we will be very dangerous."

Wenger believes Arsenal can produce the needed performance to chalk up another away victory on Monday against their direct title rivals.

"We felt unlucky at Chelsea where we lost 2-0 and at Manchester City we had a convincing win," he said. "It is in front of us now, we have an opportunity to show how good we are - that is what you want in life.

"Let's go without any preconceived ideas, not [thinking] about any weakness of Manchester United, nor about any weakness from us, just let's focus on the day, to give your best, play with belief, play for each other and we have a good chance to beat anybody."

Wenger maintained: "I know that my team will be really up for it, and I always have great belief in my players - I know how hungry they are for success and am sure that will come out in the game."

A decision on whether to play captain Cesc Fabregas, who is battling to be fit from a hamstring problem, will be left late.

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