London: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has said victory away to Premier League champions Manchester City on Sunday could be a catalyst for a successful second half of the season.
The Gunners haven`t been crowned champions of England in more than a decade and recent title bids have foundered because of a poor record against rival top clubs.
Since the 2012/13 season, Arsenal have managed just one win in 12 league matches with teams that finished in the top four and last year was especially painful for the north London club, who were overwhelmed 6-3 at City, 6-0 at Chelsea and 5-1 at Liverpool.
They will kick off 11 points behind second-placed City at Eastlands on Sunday but Wenger believes Arsenal`s European experience ought to bolster their confidence when confronted with the Premier League`s leading clubs.
"We go into a period now where the confidence is important," Wenger said.
"We have big games until the end of the season and this can be a decisive game on that front.
"We believe we can win these games because we have done so in the Champions League many times. We just have to play with a bit more freedom.
"Is it a self belief? Maybe. We did not perform last year in the top games away from home," added the Frenchman, in charge of Arsenal since September 1996.
"I believe now we are much more stable and we can do it.
"For many years it was our strength but in the last two years, it is true that it has been a weakness. I think we can rectify it."Wenger has often been scornful of the January transfer window but he said it would be "risky" not to bring in defensive cover this month given the Gunners` injury problems at the back.
This season the likes of Nacho Monreal, Kieran Gibbs, Laurent Koscielny and Mathieu Debuchy have all been sidelined at different times.
Now Debuchy is expected to be out of action for a further three months after an operation on his right shoulder and his absence leaves Arsenal with only six fit defenders.
"We can cope because we have (Calum) Chambers, (Per) Mertesacker, Koscielny," Wenger said.
"But we have now lost Debuchy who can play centre-back, Monreal who can play centre-back and Gibbs has been out too.
"So if we have another injury or two we will struggle. It is risky (not to sign anyone) -- too risky."
West Ham`s Winston Reid and Borussia Dortmund`s Mats Hummels have both been linked with a move to Arsenal but Wenger stressed he would not be rushed into a signing just for the sake of bringing in a new name.
"Why have we not signed a defender? We haven`t found one. We are not the only ones working on the case," he said.
"It is not a supermarket where you go in and buy a defender... The players who can strengthen the best 10 teams in Europe, you don`t find many and it is the same for everybody."
With Arsenal not having won the Premier League since 2004, there are those who believe a move to the Gunners is not as enticing as it once was but Wenger insisted: "We are a big attraction, of course we are.
"If it was easy (signing new players) we would do it.
"We have made enquiries but then you have the second handicap -- who wants to sell their best player, especially a central defender in the middle of the season?
"They say, `come back in June or July`."