Arsenal vs Manchester City: Arsene Wenger unfazed by early kick-off - 'we've had great games at 12.45'

The match at the Emirates is the first Premier League game of the weekend

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The Independent Online

Manager Arsene Wenger is confident Arsenal will not be caught out by the early kick-off time when they host Manchester City on Saturday lunchtime.

The Gunners struggled in their early away Premier League games last season, beaten 6-3 at the Etihad Stadium, before going down 5-1 at Liverpool and then humiliated 6-0 by London rivals Chelsea in March, which was Wenger's 1,000th match in charge.

Wenger, however, insists there is no reason to believe his team - which could include a debut for England forward Danny Welbeck following his £16million deadline day switch from Manchester United - will have no problems with a slow start this time around.

"At home, we have played well at 12:45. In the FA Cup, we had great games at 12.45. It is not the kick-off time, it is your performance, how you turn up," said Wenger.

"At 12:45 or three o'clock - for me that is just talk, the rest is the quality of the performance that counts."

Wenger continued: "[We were worse] away from home, but I think the coincidence was that we played against very strong teams away from home at 12:45.

"I think it was more the quality of our opponents and the lack of quality in our performance that produced a result, not the kick-off time.

"I have heard that many times - would you rather kick-off at three o'clock or 12:45? It is two hours and 15 minutes, that does not produce a miracle in your physical recovery.

"Sometimes maybe, on our side, we go a bit too much overboard on that. I think 12:45 is a good kick-off time. I like it."

 

Arsenal are yet to lose a Premier League game, but were held to a goalless draw at Leicester before the international break.

The Gunners have already beaten Manuel Pellegrini's men once this season, sweeping aside an under-strength team 3-0 in the FA Community Shield at Wembley on August 10.

Wenger feels Saturday's match, for which Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey is a doubt because of an ankle injury, provides another chance for Arsenal to prove they can cut it with the Premier League title contenders.

"We have now got the opportunity to show that we have grown as a team, that we are more mature and ready for the fight, so let's do it," he said.

"I don't think that this game is very important for us mathematically because we dropped points away from home, but it gives us credibility and confidence to do well.

"The Premier League this year is very, very important for us and of course a game against Manchester City becomes a very important game."

PA

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