Football Football

Wenger waits to discover Arsenal’s title potential


RAMSEY-DOUBLELONDON, England, October 18- Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal’s true standing among the Premier League title contenders will become clearer at the end of November.

Wenger’s side will attempt to consolidate their standing as the early leaders, ahead of Liverpool on goal difference, when they face Norwich City at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

The disappointment of the opening day defeat to Aston Villa has long been forgotten with the Gunners making impressive headway at home and in the Champions League.

That meant Wenger was able to use the club’s Annual General Meeting of shareholders to speak confidently about his side’s progress — in contrast to recent years when he has frequently been forced to defend the lack of success on the pitch and the failure to replace big names like Robin van Persie and Cesc Fabregas.

But he injected a note of caution, saying: “We are top of the table, in a very strong position, but at the end of November will give a much clearer indication of where everyone lies.

“I am confident that at the end of May we will all be happy.”

And the Gunners manager restated his determination to deliver success — Arsenal last won a trophy in 2005 — without compromising the club’s established way of playing and conducting business.

“We were restricted financially and had to be strict, but we have come out of that,” Wenger said.

“However, we have to defend our style of play and values, that comes from developing our own players and youth policy. That should be the core of our club.

“The future of Arsenal will rely on quality of work we do inside, to scout and develop.

“We are respected all over world for our values. We are not artificial.

“But we will also look to buy proven quality, we did not need to scout to buy (Mesut) Ozil, it was just money. I am pleased we have shown you we are not afraid to spend.”

Ozil’s arrival from Real Madrid for a club record £42.5 million at the end of the transfer window proved to be the catalyst for the change in mood at the club and Wenger confirmed the Germany midfielder is expected to be fit despite picking up a knock on international duty this week.

“He is alright. He came back with a knock on the knee, but it was just a kick,” Wenger said.

“We will have a test on Friday to see if he is fit enough for Saturday or not.

“When you have not played, there is always a little doubt, but not a major one.”

Bacary Sagna and Santi Cazorla could also be available after injuries and Wenger added: “There is a possibility both are in the squad for Saturday. I have not decided whether they will start or not.”

Meanwhile, Norwich remain in the relegation zone, but their spirits were lifted ahead of the international break when they followed the away win at Stoke with a strong home display against Chelsea.

The Canaries were eventually defeated by two late goals against Jose Mourinho’s side, but City manager Chris Hughton urged his side to build on that performance.

“What you can’t do is you can’t go to the Emirates with any type of fear,” said Hughton.

“You’ve got to go there to do your best to get something out of the game, and it’s a good opportunity for us to do that.

“It’s exciting. It’s a challenge for us. We’re off the back of a disappointing defeat to Chelsea, especially after the manner in which we played.

“What we need to do is take all the good things from that performance into the game at Arsenal, but we’re aware of what the task is because of how well they’re playing at the moment.”