Wenger: City may win title but we are close to 'something special'

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The Independent Football

Arsène Wenger takes his Arsenal side into tomorrow's game at free-spending Manchester City preferring to focus on their strengths as an established, well-run club rather than cast envious glances at the transfer budget under opposite number Roberto Mancini's command.

In a week when the club's chief executive Ivan Gazidis declared, "the game is increasingly looking to Arsenal as the model of what a football club should be," Wenger yesterday could point to the successful fight to retain captain Cesc Fabregas this summer in the face of strong interest from Barcelona as evidence of their health compared to the £125m City spent during the transfer window.

"That is what a well-managed club is, a club that can say: 'You want to give us how much [for a player]?' We can say, 'no'," Wenger said. "Of course, I think City now will be one of the contenders for the title, because they are not at the end of an investment cycle, it looks like they have just started. So you have to consider them one of the teams who will challenge.

"What I can master is the team that I will play and the way we focus and the way we play," he added. "We feel we have of course won again and we are very close to doing something special. There is a good spirit in the side, we have seen already at Chelsea [a 2-0 defeat three weeks ago] that we are close to winning these big games and that is what we want to do.

"It is an open title chase. The more consistent team will be rewarded. If you invest what they [City] do and you consider them not serious, then you must have a good sense of humour. They have a good side with plenty of good players."

Arsenal head to Eastlands in third place in the table, three points behind City in second, and boosted by the return from injury of right-back Bacary Sagna, striker Nicklas Bendtner and winger Theo Walcott as they seek only their second away win in the Premier League this season. Some have argued that in relation to City and their Abu Dhabi-based owners, the Gunners, with the large revenue generated by the Emirates Stadium and their falling levels of debt, will be in a much better position when the Uefa financial fair-play rules requiring clubs to break even over a three-year period are introduced in 2012. However, Wenger is not so sure. "If Uefa brings the rules in, these rules then give a problem to the Premier League – will they accept them or continue with their own rules?" he said. "I think they will not accept and teams will have a double problem, one team for England and one for Europe.

"Nobody knows yet what the rules will exactly be and anyway you will have to have a period of adaptation because players who are under contract now cannot go from one situation to another. You have to have an adaptation period to allow the clubs to adapt to the new rules."

Tomorrow, Arsenal will be looking to avenge their 4-2 defeat at City last season when their former striker Emmanuel Adebayor extravagantly celebrated scoring City's third goal in front of the visitors' supporters before stamping on Robin van Persie, an offence for which he was later banned for three games. Yet Wenger is not concerned with settling any scores with Adebayor, who City bought for £25m last year. "We have forgotten that and we are all focused on Sunday, putting in a good performance," he said. "That story, we have played so many games since that we don't care about that.

"When you accept to sell a player you cannot accuse him of not being loyal," he added.

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