Draw against Manchester City should reinforce Arsenal's belief says Arsene Wenger


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The Independent Online

Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal should have more belief than ever in their potential title challenge after an impressive display in holding Barclays Premier League champions Manchester City to a draw yesterday.

The Gunners earned a point at the Etihad Stadium when Laurent Koscielny made it 1-1 eight minutes from time but it was the least they deserved, particularly after largely dominating the first half.

They were made to pay for a defensive lapse in the 40th minute when Vito Mannone flapped at a corner and Joleon Lescott headed in, but Arsenal kept pressing and could even have won it had Gervinho made the most of a late opening.

The doom-mongers were predicting a season of struggle for Arsenal after they sold Robin van Persie to Manchester United in the summer and also saw key midfielder Alex Song leave, but they are yet to lose and have picked up nine points from five games.

Wenger said of the result: "I'm pleased because I feel it was the minimum we deserved. I'm pleased as well with the quality of our performance and our spirit. I'm a bit frustrated because I feel there was room to do more.

"We had early chances and of course very late chances, especially the chance of Gervinho at the edge of the box where we missed the target.

"But overall I hope the game will reinforce our belief, our confidence and reassure us about our potential in this league."

City boss Roberto Mancini was significantly less happy with his side's third draw from five games, which came five days after they suffered a last-gasp defeat by Real Madrid in their opening Champions League game.

The Italian is particularly concerned his side have not yet kept a clean sheet, with Koscielny's strike the seventh they have conceded in the league already.

Mancini said: "I'm very sorry for the players because it was difficult after Madrid but I'm worried because we conceded a goal. We need to improve and we need to work.

"In the last four games we've conceded three goals from set-pieces. This can't happen. I'm frustrated but the players are frustrated about this. If you want to win, clean sheets are important."

The result left City in seventh, four points behind leaders Chelsea and three adrift of Manchester United, and Mancini urged his team to forget about last season.

He said: "What we did has finished - it's history. Now we are like all the other teams and I don't like that we drew three games. Probably we're missing two points, from the game against Stoke maybe."

Mancini, though, shrugged off an incident after the game where he appeared to push striker Mario Balotelli, a late substitute, down the tunnel.

He admitted the Italy forward is probably unhappy about his lack of playing time, but said: "I don't remember what happened after the game. I don't know if he was asking me something - it was not important. Tomorrow I'll ask him."