Arsenal v Southampton: Arsenal can win the Premier League title, claims Saints manager Mauricio Pochettino

The Gunners host high-flying Saints on Saturday

Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino has been impressed by Arsenal this season and believes the Barclays Premier League leaders can sustain their title challenge.

Arsene Wenger's side look like they could soon end their well-documented trophy drought after an impressive start that leaves them top of the domestic table as well as their Champions League group.

Despite their fine start, however, questions remain over the strength in depth of Arsenal's squad in addition to their ability to compete against other top teams.

Their 1-0 defeat to Manchester United last time out highlighted those perceived weaknesses, which will be tested again this weekend in an unlikely first versus third clash at the Emirates Stadium.

Southampton could usurp the Gunners as league leaders should results go their way on Saturday, although former Argentina international Pochettino is well aware of the threat the north Londoners pose.

"I would say that the team that we're going to play against on Saturday is the one that's playing the best football in the league," he said.

"I think they can win the league, but I also think that there's other teams that are going to be in the running to win the league.

"I think it's going to be a hard-fought competition throughout until the end of the season. It's going to be very competitive and I think it's going to be a very exciting end to the season."

Arsenal's hopes of a first league title since the invincible 2003/04 season are undoubtedly boosted by the creative attacking options at their disposal.

Pochettino knows two of those well from his time in the Primera Division with Espanyol, and warned his players to keep close tabs on Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla.

"I rate Mesut Ozil as one of the top 10 players in the world," he said of the former Real Madrid playmaker.

"It is clear they are two great football players. It is clear that you cannot afford to grant them any space or time to think because they are players with individual actions can decide a game on their own.

"They are amazing talents as we saw in La Liga and now as we see in the Premier League, so we have to be really careful with the two of them."

Southampton will be without Jack Cork and Guly do Prado for the trip to north London, while the fitness of Gaston Ramirez will be assessed when he returns from international duty with Uruguay on Friday.

While he has been away from the south coast, more comments have emanated from his representative about the £12million signing's apparent dissatisfaction at St Mary's and the potential of a move to Inter Milan.

Asked for news on Ramirez's future, Pochettino said: "Nothing. He's just a Southampton player and, as any other player, he's fulfilling his contract at Southampton. I know nothing about that (interest from Inter)."

Pochettino was equally curt when quizzed about record signing Dani Osvaldo's future and a report in Turkey that Besiktas have made an enquiry about Jose Fonte, a key part of the Saints defence to have conceded just five league goals this season.

"Every time I speak about the secret of this team and their success, I speak about it in a defensive manner in the sense that we have been playing really well defensively," he said of the Portuguese.

"That is not just down to one player, but the collective, the whole squad. I think not just him but the whole squad deserves the same merit, the same praise.

"Now I have found out about another rumour about another one of my players, so that pleases me. Press conferences are a great way to find out about these rumours."

PA

News
US comedian Bill Mahr
people
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Sport
football
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
Life and Style
The Oliver twins, Philip and Andrew, at work creating the 'Dizzy' arcade-adventure games in 1988
techDocumentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Arts and Entertainment
Krall says: 'My hero player-singer is Elton John I used to listen to him as a child, every single record
music
News
Friends for life … some professionals think loneliness is more worrying than obesity
scienceSocial contact is good for our sense of wellbeing - but it's a myth that loneliness kills, say researchers
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
News
i100
Environment
Number so freshwater mussels in Cumbria have plummeted from up to three million in the 20th century to 500,000
environment
Life and Style
Models – and musicians – on the catwalk in Dior Homme for the men’s 2015/16 fashion show in Paris
fashionAt this season's Paris shows, various labels played with the city boys' favourite
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us