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A different challenge - Arsene Wenger on Chelsea

Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal side face Chelsea at the Emirates this weekend and the Arsenal manager was candid in his assessment of the Blues.

Wenger said Chelsea had been “rejuvenated” by their purchases this summer of “more creative young players” which he anticipates will provide a “different challenge” for the Gunners this weekend.

His side has yet to lose a game this season and hopes that his team can withstand the pressure this Saturday.

“We have a big task in front of us and, for us, it’s down to consistency and to be efficient in the games like Saturday.” Said the manager, who remained shy on his team selection in his pre-match press conference midweek."

He currently has three fit and in-form centre-backs vying for selection in his first team – captain Thomas Vermaelen, along with Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny have all performed well so far this campaign, tied on goal-difference with Chelsea, both teams conceding only two goals in five games.

Asked if this proposed a problem, the Arsenal manager called it a “selection solution – it’s not a problem” continuing,

“They are all doing well. I will just select the players who, for me, are the most suited to play against the opponent.”

Whilst he gave no clues away as to his starting line-up, he was quick to compliment Chelsea’s summer signing Eden Hazard:

“He has been voted twice the best player of the French league, two consecutive years and you need some quality to achieve that at his age. So I’m not surprised at all that he goes to Chelsea and is, straight away, one of their stars."

He also confirmed speculation that the Londoners were interested in him and, in fact, were close to signing him,

“Everybody knew about him – let’s not forget that all the big badges in England were after him. We were close. The transfer price was fixed because he had a clause but I can’t tell you how close we were because I don’t know what Chelsea paid in the end.”

He took the opportunity to congratulate Chelsea on their Champion’s League title but suggested the Blues rode their luck somewhat,

“They were efficient. A bit of luck as well won them the trophy. You have to congratulate them.”

He pointed to the loss of Didier Drogba as a potential stumbling block for Chelsea but maintained he was glad to see the back of the striker:

“I don’t know if they miss him but we don’t miss him. He did a lot of damage against us. He was absolutely influential and decisive.”

Wenger also responded to former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho’s glowing assessment of the Gunners’ start to the new season:

“It’s always nice to hear good things about your team, especially from people who know the job. We are thankful for that. I believe that he’s honest about what he thinks and I hope we will be at the level he rates us for the whole season.”

Saturday’s game is the Gunner’s opportunity to prove they really are title contenders, after going home with point from a dominant performance away to champions Manchester City in their 1-1 draw last weekend.

image: © Crystian Cruz

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