Wenger talks up title chances after derby delight
London: Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal are showing the class and authority of English Premier League title contenders after a comfortable 3-0 win over rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
A north London derby which had been billed as a litmus test of both sides` potential this season produced a horribly one-sided scoreline, with Wenger`s side cruising to a 3-0 win at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday courtesy of some appalling defending from the visitors.
It ensured Arsenal kept up their hoodoo over Tottenham in league football - it is now 20 games unbeaten for the Gunners against their near-neighbours - but Wenger was less concerned with local pride than what this triumph said about his team`s ability to challenge for major honours this season.
The bare facts tell the story.
Arsenal are now unbeaten in 11 games in all competitions; they are progressing serenely in the Champions League, where they can ensure a place in the knockout stage with a win over AZ Alkmaar on Wednesday; their youngsters made light of an experienced Liverpool line-up in the League Cup last Wednesday; and, now, they are in touch with the Premier League leaders.
No wonder Wenger bore a satisfied look in the aftermath.
"Do we have enough to win the title? I say yes. I`ve said that since the first day of the season and it won`t change now," Wenger said.
"We want to show consistency and intelligence and that is not easy," the Frenchman added.
"I believe we have the opportunity and it will be down to our attitude. It is not about opinions, it is about performances on the pitch. That is what is important and we are doing that at the moment. It has been a fantastic week for the club."
There were few stand-out performers in Arsenal`s latest victory. Indeed, there was a case to be made for claiming the biggest contribution made to the hosts` success was by Tottenham`s defence, which imploded in embarrassing fashion after comfortably holding Arsenal at bay for 43 minutes.
Then, Robin van Persie prodded in the opener from Bacary Sagna`s cross before Cesc Fabregas, taking the ball from Wilson Palacios direct from the kick-off, waltzed through two tackles and calmly stroked past Heurelho Gomes.
That effectively snuffed out Spurs` chances and, in the end, the visitors should have been grateful that van Persie`s close-range finish was the only addition to the scoreline in the second period.
Spurs manager Harry Redknapp, not entirely unreasonably, preferred to focus on the closing moments of the first half as the afternoon`s turning point.
"The goals we gave away turned the whole game upside down," Redknapp said. "I thought they were edgy, they were giving the ball away, the crowd was moaning at every mistake. I thought we were going to come in at half-time in great shape but the defending for the goals was scandalous."
If that was a fair enough assessment, Wenger might have cause to quibble with Redknapp`s verdict on the quality gap that still yawns widely between these two old foes.
"There is no gap between the clubs in my opinion," he added. "I think two mistakes turned the game upside down but you have days where we made a couple of errors and got punished."
The evidence on the field begged to differ, and Spurs are now aware of the challenge that faces them if they hope to break the stranglehold exerted on English football by the established elite.
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