Saturday 18 November 2017

Arsene Wenger urges his team to make a statement against Manchester City

Arsene Wenger wants Arsenal to make a statement at the Etihad Stadium
Arsene Wenger wants Arsenal to make a statement at the Etihad Stadium

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has urged his players to seize the opportunity to show they can compete with Manchester City when the Gunners face the Premier League leaders at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Wenger's men sit bottom of the big six mini league - matches between the top teams under their current managers - and were humbled 4-0 at Liverpool in August.

But, following a string of victories on home turf, the Frenchman is keen for his side to make a statement against City on Sunday.

"We have an opportunity to show we can do well against a big team away from home," he said. "It is one we want to take and I'm sure everyone in our camp will be focused on that.

"They are good, I don't want to take anything away from Manchester City at the moment, they are doing extremely well, they are top of the league and top of the European group stage.

"As well it is a good opportunity for us to show we can compete with them and that is what we want to show."

City head into the game on the back of Wednesday's impressive 4-2 Champions League triumph at Serie A pace-setters Napoli, while the Gunners qualified for the knockout stages of the Europa League on Thursday with a goalless home draw against Red Star Belgrade.

Aaron Ramsey could have a key role to play at the Etihad Stadium, and Wenger believes the midfielder is thriving in his new central role.

"I think he is calmer in the final third," Wenger said. "He always had many opportunities but rushed his decisions or execution sometimes.

"But, especially when you look at the goal against Swansea (2-1 win last weekend), a few years ago he would not have that chance in the same composed way. He is more mature, he is 27 now and that is important stage for a midfielder.

"I used him sometimes more out wide to balance the team because he can give you that defensive work, but I like him central. He is much more reliable defensively now than he was a few years ago. He is a big player for us."

Arsenal will be hoping left-back Sead Kolasinac overcomes a hip injury after limping out of last weekend's game against Swansea.

Wenger changed his entire team in midweek, but the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette are in line for recalls.

Germany playmaker Ozil returned to action last month after a knee injury, and his boss hopes he will trouble City.

"I would say at the moment that Ozil is in a very good shape physically," Wenger said.

"People talk at the moment only about Sanchez but for us, (Ozil's) performance on Sunday will be important as well. He will have to contribute a lot to the way we play.

"As well he can be an asset every time we attack because he is a guy who can create chances."

Press Association

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