Wenger - We must beat Chelsea
Manager insists Arsenal have to respond to United setback
By Ben Collins. Last Updated: 24/12/10 2:31pm
Wenger: Big challenge against Chelsea
Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal's home form will be crucial to their title challenge, beginning with Monday night's visit of Chelsea.
The Gunners have already travelled to face their title rivals this season, losing 2-0 at Stamford Bridge in October and 1-0 to Manchester United last time out.
Chelsea now visit the Emirates while their next home game is on 5th January against third-placed Man City, where Arsenal won 3-0 in October.
And Wenger feels the Gunners must halt a five-match losing streak against Chelsea to show they have the resolve to remain in the title race.
"Of course, this is a must-win game," he said. "We have mixed feelings because we came out of both games against Chelsea and Man United this season thinking we could have won and that there wasn't a difference between the teams.
"We have a good opportunity to show that in the coming months and that our improvement is bigger than any other team because we are a very young side.
"It's about how well we respond to what happened to us at Chelsea and Man United that will be the decider for our season.
"We have played Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool away so our home form in these kind of games will be decisive.
"We are confident over taking Chelsea on at home. We face a big challenge. What we want is to produce an intelligent game full of dynamism. That is the only way we can win these big games."
Arsenal have already lost at home to West Brom, Newcastle and derby rivals Tottenham so Wenger is relieved they remain in second place, just two points behind new leaders Man United.
"I'm surprised that we've lost five games - three of them at home against teams who are not normally fighting for the championship - but we're still near the top," he said.
"The good news is that we are still in a good position and have not paid a high price for that. Of course our home form in the second part of the season will be the decider."
Chelsea have dropped from top spot to fourth place after winning just one of their last seven Premier League games but the Blues could be back to full strength at the Emirates with the likes of John Terry and Frank Lampard set to return from injury.
"Chelsea have gone through a period where results are a bit less good but that can happen to anyone in this league," Wenger added.
"We have seen recently that any team, when you think they are on the brink of breaking through, can have a hiccup. Maybe it's just the quality of the league.
"You never know whether it's the best time to play Chelsea. Every game is specific and a new start. They have a little bit less confidence than they had in October but we know that winning will be down to our performance.
"We know that on Monday we will play against a top team and we do not expect any weakness on their side. We want to put a top-level performance in at the Emirates and show we are masters at home."