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Wenger says Blues rout restored pride

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LONDON COLNEY, England, October 31 – Arsene Wenger insists Arsenal’s stunning 5-3 win at Chelsea proves his players have finally shaken off the gloom that surrounded the Gunners after their woeful start to the season.

Wenger’s side were widely written off, even by some of their own fans, after making the club’s worst start to a campaign for 58 years.

The lowest point came at Manchester United when Arsenal suffered a humiliating 8-2 defeat, but Wenger never lost faith in his players even then and his faith is now being rewarded.

Arsenal have won eight of their last nine matches in all competitions and their revival reached a peak on Saturday as Robin van Persie’s hat-trick inspired a sensational demolition of Chelsea.

The victory appeared to be a cathartic moment for Wenger’s players, who enjoyed a prolonged celebration in front of travelling supporters after the final whistle at Stamford Bridge.

Wenger sees that as a sign that the feel-good factor has returned to his team, who can keep the up-beat mood going with a win over Marseille in the Champions League on Tuesday.

“The mood was already good but it is better now because it convinces my team we can realise big things,” Wenger said on Monday.

“The celebrations after the Chelsea match were important because it shows how much the players want to win and how big the test was.

“The team had been asked the question (about their attitude). Among the players there is a huge desire to improve that is why I always believed in the team.

“Of course I always believed in their quality. I was always very confident because I knew the key to these games lies in getting the small details right.”

While Wenger’s side are back within touching distance of the Premier League’s top four, the French coach acknowledges there is still more improvement needed before the Gunners can be regarded as title contenders.

“I believe to come back into the title race we need much more consistency in our results before we claim that,” Wenger said.

“We are closer to the Champions League places, the next thing is to get back closer to the teams at the top. It is our deep desire, but we need more time.

“Beating Chelsea is one step. We still have some progress to make. What is important now is to play lots of big games and do well in them.”

Wenger knows Marseille’s visit to the Emirates Stadium will be another test of Arsenal’s renaissance.

The north Londoners are one point clear of second placed Marseille and can qualify for the last 16 with a win, but the French outfit have enough talent to cause problems for the leaky Gunners defence.

“Marseille always makes it hard for teams in England,” Wenger said. “They are more at ease away from home than at home.

“They can defend well and attack on the break, so the counter-attack suits them well.

“But for us it is an opportunity to qualify and we want to take that chance.”

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