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Jan 5, 2011

Wenger: Success can come cheap

Arsene Wenger is out to show big-spending Manchester City that Arsenal's more frugal approach can bring success as the Premier League heavyweights prepare to face off on Wednesday night.

Mancini confident of Dzeko deal

• Toure plays down bust-up
• Wenger ponders Vela options

City are set to add the £27million purchase of Edin Dzeko from Wolfsburg to what has been an unprecedented level of investment seen at any English club since Sheikh Mansour took over at Eastlands in 2008.

While there is no doubt Arsenal's spending on wages and transfers dwarfs that of the majority of Premier League clubs, Wenger's strategy has been to build a team rather than buy one at the Emirates, the site of what could be prove to be a crucial match in the title race.

"What is fantastic in football is there is no given formula,'' the Arsenal manager said. "I personally am a big fan of the way we do it, so I try to be successful with the way we do it. You can also do it the way Inter [Milan] do, or Manchester City do - they buy the best players in the world, and it works as well. What I want to show is it works our way as well.''

Wenger hinted that UEFA's new financial fair play rules could catch up with the likes of City and give Arsenal an advantage in the medium-term.

"It does not annoy me [the other way] as long as they respect the rules. At the moment, the rules are like that and they respect them, so you cannot fault them. It is supposed to change, then we will see.''

Wenger also refused to deny that he was the subject of interest from City himself when the club sought a replacement for Mark Hughes, before eventually settling on Roberto Mancini.

"That is certainly not a thing that I want to speak about the day before our game," he said. "I never came out with who wanted to sign me and I will never tell you because it's disrespectful to the people who are in charge."

Wenger believes it is momentum and belief, not flashy new signings, that will determine one of the least predictable title races in recent memory. The Gunners have so far enjoyed a decent return from their Christmas fixtures, beating Chelsea on December 27, before drawing at Wigan and then seeing off Birmingham 3-0 at St Andrew's on New Year's Day.

Although Arsenal hold a match in hand on City, whom they trail by two points, they will have played one more than leaders Manchester United by full-time on Wednesday when victory could move them back to within two of the top. Given the likes of Chelsea and Tottenham are also within striking distance, Wenger knows full well it will be the team which is strongest from here on in who are set to be at the summit the only time it really matters on May 22.

"There are five teams in the fight. Some teams have a bit more belief than others, but that can change very quickly. Overall it promises to be a very interesting sprint,'' Wenger said. "You always have a team after Christmas who finds a momentum and this team will win the championship.''

The Arsenal manager is happy enough with his team's current form, but accepts things could have been even better.

"I have a two-point frustration, but I am very happy with the attitude of the players and the team and of the way we improve from game to game,'' said Wenger, who had made some eight changes for the trip to Wigan, where his side conceded a late equaliser against 10 men.

Arsenal for once have the majority of their first-team squad available, with full-back Kieran Gibbs likely to be in contention for Saturday's FA Cup tie against Leeds after an ankle problem. Wenger revealed that welcome scenario would probably now determine his transfer policy during January.

"Midfield and up front, no, but at the back, it just depends on [Thomas] Vermaelen,'' he said. "I am just waiting to know more about him, and then at the end of January will have to make a decision.''

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