Wenger calls for belief from Arsenal

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The Independent Football

Arsene Wenger has challenged his young Arsenal side to show they have the hunger for success by delivering victory against Barclays Premier League title rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford tonight.

The Gunners remain top of the table after Didier Drogba's stoppage-time penalty miss at Tottenham meant Chelsea dropped down to fourth following Manchester City's win at West Ham on Saturday, which left them level on points with the leaders.

There is certainly little margin for error in what looks set to be one of the tightest championship battles for many seasons, with United still holding a match in hand on the teams around them.

It has been four years since Arsenal beat the Red Devils on home soil. However, in each of the seasons in which they went on to win the Premier League, Wenger's side got a positive result at Old Trafford.

The Arsenal manager feels now is the perfect time for his latest generation to deliver.

"We have an opportunity to show how good we are - that is what you want in life," Wenger said.

"Let's go without any preconceived ideas, not [thinking] about any weakness of Manchester United, nor about any weakness from us, just let's focus on the day, to give your best, play with belief, play for each other and we have a good chance to beat anybody."

Wenger maintained: "I know that my team will be really up for it, and I always have great belief in my players - I know how hungry they are for success and am sure that will come out in the game."

Tonight's game will again pit Wenger against great rival Sir Alex Ferguson, and the Frenchman insists his former spats with the Scot should be taken in isolation.

"It's always for me in the heat of the moment," Wenger added on arsenal.com.

"I'm not somebody who bears grudges for years. I can forgive - indeed, sometimes I need to be the person to be forgiven - but I'm not somebody who thinks for 10 years, forever, 'I will hate you'.

"Relations with people go up and down a little bit. Why? Because many things happen in the heat of the moment and you know it's not for definite.

"I had [arguments] not only with him but with other managers."

A decision on whether to play captain Cesc Fabregas, who is battling to be fit from a hamstring problem, will be left as late as possible, while Theo Walcott - who impressed when coming off the bench to inspire the Champions League victory over Partizan Belgrade - could make his first start at Old Trafford.

Walcott has struggled to crack the Arsenal first team in recent weeks but Wenger insists his patience will be rewarded.

"Frankly I can understand that because for me Theo Walcott is doing well," Wenger said. "For me he is not an impact player, he is a regular player.

"At the moment he does not play as often as he should but he will play soon.

"In fairness, Theo is fantastic. His attitude and behaviour has been absolutely great."