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Wenger admits catching Man Utd in title race ‘is out of sight’

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. Photo: Chris Ison/PA Wire Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. Photo: Chris Ison/PA Wire

Wednesday, January 23, 2013
8:52 AM

Arsene Wenger does not believe there is an “untouchable” team in the Premier League this season and that, he says, makes it all the more frustrating that Arsenal have missed a huge chance to end an nine-year wait for the top prize in England.

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The Gunners host West Ham tonight in their rearranged Boxing Day game, coming off the back of consecutive defeats to in the division to top four rivals Manchester City and Chelsea.

The North Londoners are 22 points of the title pace while neighbours Tottenham – currently occupying the last Champions League berth – dominated leaders Manchester United at the weekend and claimed a last-gasp 1-1 draw against them to edge seven points in front of Arsenal.

That has left Wenger feeling that there has been a drop in standards in the top flight, but one his men have not taken advantage of.

He said: “I saw Tottenham v Manchester United and you think the difference between us and Manchester United when you see them play...

“It was a fantastic opportunity [to win the league] this season. To catch Manchester United now is out of sight at the moment.

“We have to get closer to the people in front of us first before we can think that. Man United is far but there is no untouchable team in the country at the moment.”

Instead of title aspirations sixth-placed Arsenal now face a battle to maintain Wenger’s perfect 16-year record of always qualifying for the Champions League.

“It should not be different [to get in the top four] but it will be tough,” the Frenchman said.

“You have plenty of candidates – Tottenham and Everton who are fighting there as well, but I think we can do it and that we will do it.

“What the last two results have created is that we cannot waste any points now.”

The Gunners were in a similar position this time last season but still managed to secure third spot and that offers hope but also a measure of concern for Wenger.

“It gives me confidence but it’s very frustrating because we don’t want to be in this position,” he said, adding: “We want to challenge for the championship.

“I feel from now until the end of the season we have room to stand up to show our strengths and our character as well because last year we came from further behind.

“We finished third but Chelsea is a bit away now and the game we lost at Chelsea [had] mathematically difficult consequences.”

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Arsenal

Nickname: The Gunners.

Ground: Emirates Stadium (capacity 60,361).

Founded: 1886.

Honours: First Division (until 1992) and Premier League: 1931, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1938, 1948, 1953, 1971, 1989, 1991, 1998, 2002, 2004.

FA Cup: 1930, 1936, 1950, 1971, 1989, 1991, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2005.

League Cup: 1987, 1993.

Fairs Cup: 1970.

Cup Winners’ Cup: 1994.

Leading goalscorer: Thierry Henry, 228.

Leading appearances: David O’Leary, 722.