Arsene Wenger brushes off Arsenal ‘Invincibles’ comparison after Norwich City romp
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Arsene Wenger brushed off premature comparisons between his current vintage and the all-conquering Arsenal 'Invincibles' after watching the Gunners overwhelm Norwich City.
Robert Pires' appearance on the Emirates pitch at half-time was a reminder of the French manager's golden era which culminated in an unbeaten surge to the 2004 Premier League title.
Aston Villa remain the only club to have inflicted a defeat on the Gunners this season but the addition of club-record signing Mesut Ozil and the impressive form of men like Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey has raised genuine hopes of a new period of dominance.
'It is a bit early to make those comparisons,' smiled Wenger. 'We are not at Christmas yet, but honestly we have a good attitude and are hungry, with a good solidarity level. We have quality, but how far we will go is down to how consistent we can be, how much effort we can put into every single game and how much are we able not to get into a comfort level, which it is about at the top level. We have belief. The belief is strengthened by every win. We have come out of a long period where most of the time in recent years by October we were already looking forwards from being behind. At the moment we are in a better position, but there is a long way to go. We just have to focus on developing as a team and keep the solidarity we have.'
Wenger is content to be leading the rest at this early stage but the wily Gunners' boss insists it is too early to discount reigning champions Manchester United, who continue to falter in the wake of the recent retirement of his great rival Sir Alex Ferguson.
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'No it's too early to rule them out. They are not out of the title race,' he said. 'We are only two points in front of all the others so if you ask me, 'are Man United out of the title race?' then 'No', but of course 10 points starts to be a little gap. If you have a choice nobody wants to be 10 points behind. If you have the choice, you want to be in the race at the top, but you cannot rule Man United out today. They have big players, big experience and they are a big club. It's three games basically – that is very quick in our league.'
Wenger's enviable squad depth was underlined by his decision to keep the free-scoring Ramsey on the bench prior to his early introduction for the concussed Mathieu Flamini. John Ruddy had denied the Welsh skipper on numerous occasions before his slaloming late run and cool finish quelled the Canaries' fightback.
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'We play three games in 27 days, and that means we will need everybody. I could rest Ramsey a bit because he has basically played every minute of the season and also the two international games for Wales,' said Wenger. 'It gives me an opportunity as well to give the players a little breather before they will get injured. We have a squad that in number and quality is very, very good. With the number of competitions involved, everybody thinks they have a chance to play. That is what is the most important - as long as you fight for things everybody keeps the focus.'
Flamini is a doubt for Arsenal's midweek Champions League clash against Borussia Dortmund and England international Theo Walcott is unlikely to feature after a suffering a setback in his recovery from an abdominal problem.
'He had a setback on Thursday. He had to stop and then to jog again, I don't think we will see him against Dortmund, nor Crystal Palace nor Chelsea. He is at least two weeks away now,' said Wenger. 'Flamini has concussion. He had double vision, so on advice of the doctor I took him off because I did not want to take any gamble. It depends now what the doctors decide, sometimes they are not allowed to play for five days, it depends how big the concussion was.'