Arsene Wenger insists he is happy if Manchester City’s and Chelsea’s resources make them favorites for the Premier League title, believing that his Arsenal side can compete where it counts -- on the field. Arsenal head into Saturday’s home encounter with Fulham a point clear of Manchester City atop the Premier League, with Chelsea a point further back. The wealth and squad strengths of Arsenal’s two leading rivals has many predicting that one of them will come out in top this season, but Wenger believes he can prove the skeptics wrong.
“In terms of their resources no [we can’t compete] because they have unlimited resources, but with our resources available, we are ready to fight,” he said, according to Arsenal’s official website.
“I believe that you can convince people in two ways - by the quality and consistency of the performances. Let people make Man City or Chelsea the favorites, we can accept that. The reality is that on Saturday afternoon at 3 pm, that is when you can perform and when we have an opportunity to convince people that we are serious about what we want to achieve.”
Wenger has again dismissed the prospect of entering the transfer market this month, despite the club’s mounting injury problems. Aaron Ramsey, Mikel Arteta and Thomas Vermaelen remain out while Nacho Monreal and Tomas Rosicky are major doubts. Monreal suffered ligament damage in his foot in the 2-1 victory over Aston Villa on Monday, while Rosicky has had surgery on a broken nose suffered in the same game. Wenger’s options are also limited up front, with Walcott out for the rest of the season and Nicklas Bendtner and Yaya Sanogo still unavailable.
Still, Arsenal will be expected to continue their impressive record against the Premier League lower-ranked teams when Fulham come to the Emirates. Since the opening-day defeat to Aston Villa, Arsenal have dropped just two points to a side outside of the top seven, a habit which Wenger believes could prove crucial.
"That gives you consistency," he said. "After that you want to make some special results against the direct contenders as well.”
Arsenal dispatched Fulham, 3-1 in the previous meeting between the sides this season, when the Cottagers were still under the charge of Martin Jol. New head coach Rene Meulensteen has enjoyed mixed results since taking the reins, although two wins in their last four Premier League outings have taken Fulham a point clear of the drop zone.
Following a victory over Norwich in their FA Cup third-round replay on Tuesday, Meulensteen is now targeting getting back-to-back wins for the first time since he took over. But the former Manchester United coach is well aware of their opponents’ qualities.
“I’ve always had a lot of respect for Arsenal as a club,” he said, according to Fulham’s official website. “It’s a fantastic club with the way they want to play football. Arsenal have got no secrets, they’ve had no secrets for the last eight years. They’re players that play. They won’t change, that’s what they are. You know what you’re going to be up against -- you’re going to be up against a very good football team with some very good individuals.”
Fulham’s only injury doubt is over central defender Fernando Amorebieta, who suffered a tweak to his knee in training on Wednesday.
Where to watch: The Barclays Premier League match will kick off at 10 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by NBCSN, with a live stream available on NBC Sports Live Extra.