Wenger: We'll have last laugh on Manchester

Arsenal manager says his side is better than United and City despite recent defeats

His team may have come away without points from successive trips to Manchester but Arsène Wenger yesterday claimed the matches against United and City convinced him that Arsenal are better than either rival.

Sir Alex Ferguson and Mark Hughes will tell him to "look in the book", which will record 2-1 and 4-2 victories respectively for the Manchester sides, but Wenger insisted: "There is a belief after the games against Manchester United and Manchester City that we are stronger than them, we have to transfer that into points and wins."

Asked about Arsenal's squad strength compared to United's he added, "I am not talking about the whole package, but on the basis of that match we should not have any inferiority complex. We'll see when the season ends."

Not that Wenger has any doubts about the quality of his squad. The Arsenal manager was speaking at the official opening of the Highbury Stadium Square complex, the redevelopment of the club's old ground into luxury flats. The downturn in the housing market has affected sales, which in turn reduces Wenger's budget for team-building, but he said he was happy with the funds he had available, and felt he did not need to spend them.

"I had £30m in the summer, and I spent £10m on Vermaelen. Apart from that I did not want to buy," he said. "We have an unbelievable squad. Against Wigan, Bendtner was on the bench, Walcott, Arshavin, Nasri, Denilson did not play. Where do you play all the players, who are all talented players?"

Arsenal face Fulham tomorrow, a fixture they have lost for three successive seasons. Another defeat, which would be their third of the league season, would appear to spell the end of Arsenal's fledgling title challenge, but Wenger said: "You can never afford to lose a game in this league, but you can lose five and win the championship, we have shown that and so have Manchester United. Not that we are thinking of losing. The team has grown since this game last year, it has matured and is stronger."

Wenger also countered criticism by Bordeaux president Jean-Louis Triaud that he unsettled their striker Marouane Chamakh.



Triaud suggested Wenger publicly declared an interest in his player before telling Bordeaux – and added he is reluctant to do business with Arsenal if they go back for Chamakh when the transfer window reopens in January. Wenger said: "The communication between the president of Bordeaux and myself is very clear – I kept him informed on everything that happened.

"If he is ready to make a comment, I'm ready to sit down with him here and now to explain to you what he said. Then I will answer eye to eye. I don't agree at all. It's very difficult for me to understand any statement of that kind from him. I'm ready to make a press conference with him if you want.

"I'm not angry because I look in the mirror and know what I did – I don't need any special comment. We can sit down here with the player and the president of Bordeaux and have an explanation. I'm sure the president of Bordeaux will agree with what I say."

Wenger added, in a comment which may further inflame Triaud, that he still feels Chamakh "is fantastic".

In an implicit criticism of the leaks which emanated from across the Channel about the transfer he added: "I feel it is very important to keep confidentiality with everything that happens. I have never seen a story like that where something is in the newspapers every day because they talk. You talk when you sign the player. All the rest is the procedure of any transfer.

"I have made nearly 200 transfers and that means nearly 400 have not happened. That is part of any deal. It's not because they are under pressure in Bordeaux that we have to explain everything that happens."

Andrei Arshavin is fit to play against Fulham, and Theo Walcott should be back in the squad, but Manuel Almunia is still struggling with a virus. Wojciech Szczesny may deputise instead of Vito Mannone.

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