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Wenger - Arsenal are ready to be champions

SoccerBy Kevin Palmer
Wenger talking up Arsenal's title hopes
Wenger talking up Arsenal's title hopes

Arsene Wenger believes his Arsenal side are now proving they have the character to fight for the Premier League title.

The Gunners have been questioned in the past about not being up for the fight required to win silverware on a regular basis in recent seasons.

They welcome Manchester City to the Emirates Stadium on Monday night looking to keep their title credentials intact having already seen off fellow top-four sides Leicester and Manchester United with relative ease this season.

Having lifted the FA Cup for the past two years Arsenal ended a barren spell without trophies and are right in the title picture once again.

A 3-0 victory at Olympiacos last week also saw them progress into the Champions League last 16 - where they will meet Barcelona - and Wenger feels recent results are showing his players are answering the critics in the right fashion.

"We have to accept that's part of it but we have to give our answer on the pitch week in, week out, and that will slowly die," he said.

"It was true for a while because we were a young team and a young team can be up and down. But I believe now we have shown that what we did at Olympiacos is not a team of no character.

"You need to be special to achieve that. We won the FA Cup in the last two seasons and you need character to win the FA Cup. Everybody would love to do it every year."

Wenger feels consistency is the main proof of characters and his team need to show that over the festive period to prevent themselves slipping away in the new year.

The inability to put together a largely consistent season is one of the reasons Arsenal remain without a title since 2004 but, having gone to high-flying Leicester and won 5-2, Wenger has backed his current crop to turn that around.

He said: "We are the only team who have beaten Leicester basically, and in a convincing way. The character is down to consistency in life.

"That's what I call character. All of us can be for one day in our life exceptional but character is to have a target and maintain your focus on that target.

"That's what I call character and that's what we have to show in the league. What I feel is great team spirit and great unity in the dressing room, and focus to go forward, that's for sure. After that, we have to answer on the pitch 'are we good enough?'"

Wenger has not ruled out talismanic Chilean Alexis Sanchez recovering from a hamstring problem in time to return against City.