Thursday, December 7, 2023

Thierry Henry on same page as Arsene Wenger with verdict on Arsenal title chances

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Former Arsenal star Thierry Henry shares the stance of his old manager Arsene Wenger when it comes to the Gunners’ title chances.

Mikel Arteta’s team sit top of the Premier League table ahead of their next big test on Sunday. They will hope to follow their 3-1 north London derby victory over Tottenham Hotspur by claiming another victory against last season’s runners-up Liverpool.

On Sunday, though, the result was overshadowed as Manchester City demolished Manchester United, scoring four unanswered first-half goals in a 6-3 win. And, while the Arsenal legends believe their old club are in the conversation, City’s form hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Henry was on punditry duties with CBS Sports for Tuesday’s Champions League matches, and was asked whether he felt Arteta’s side were title contenders. “What is it – eight games in the league? Back to competing, I would say,” was his answer.

“What is nice to see is a team that can compete. Competing and for me, I always say it’s not because it’s Arsenal or any different team, when you pass Boxing Day and Christmas, it’s going to be different because you have the World Cup, but when you pass January and you’re still up there, competing for the title, then you’re a title contender.’

Arsenal were never higher than fourth in the table last term, with three defeats from their first three games leaving them playing catch-up. This time, though, they sit a point clear of second-place Manchester City after eight games and four clear of Spurs in third.

Wenger, who led Arsenal to their most recent Premier League title, was similarly impressed by Saturday’s win. However, he still put Manchester City ahead of his former club, with Pep Guardiola’s side still yet to taste defeat in the league this term.

“Personally I would put Arsenal just behind Manchester City,” the Frenchman told BeIN Sports. “Arsenal are the second best team to have a good chance at winning the Premiership.”

The 72-year-old had previously talked up Arsenal’s chances in a season which he admitted will be “special” due to the interruption caused by the Qatar World Cup. “I would say they have a good chance this season because I don’t see any super dominating team, I believe that it is a good opportunity to do it this season,” Wenger told Sky Sports.

“Of course, it’s a little bit of a special season as well because you have the World Cup in the middle and you don’t know how much that will affect the performances of the individual players and of the teams,” he continued. “Overall, I believe there is a good opportunity there this season.”

Arsenal and Manchester City are now likely to face each other twice after the World Cup, after their planned October meeting was postponed. Arsenal’s rearranged Europa League game against PSV Eindhoven will now take place on 20 October, so a new date is needed for the home game against City originally scheduled for the same week.

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