Wednesday 12 December 2018

No place for Arsenal to hide, insists Wenger before City clash

Arsene Wenger is confident his team can match Manchester City on Sunday
Arsene Wenger is confident his team can match Manchester City on Sunday

Arsene Wenger insists Arsenal "will not hide" when they take on Premier League pace-setters Manchester City on Sunday.

The Gunners qualified for the knockout stages of the Europa League following a goalless draw with Red Star Belgrade on Thursday night.

Wenger made 11 changes for the tie against the Serbian SuperLiga outfit and is expected to make wholesale alterations for the visit to City.

While Pep Guardiola's side are setting the Premier League alight, Arsenal have won just once on the road in the league thus far.

Wenger saw his men humbled 4-0 at Liverpool in August but, following a string of victories on home turf, the Frenchman is keen to push City to their limits on Sunday.

"We have an opportunity to show that we can deal with those kind of games and I am sure we can," he said.

"At the moment, we just have to prepare in a serious way with clarity and focus and give the maximum on Sunday.

"I wouldn't like to come out on that but of course we will try to play our game. We will not hide.

"We want as well to play, have the ball and create dangerous situations. The best way to defend sometimes is to attack."

Arsenal were the last team to beat City, triumphing in their FA Cup semi-final meeting in April.

They also ran Guardiola's team close in the corresponding league fixture last season as Theo Walcott gave the visitors the lead before they slipped to a 2-1 defeat.

The England international is unlikely to start at the Etihad Stadium this time around but feels Arsenal can make life difficult for their hosts.

After their disappointment at Liverpool, the Gunners ground out a goalless draw at champions Chelsea - but Walcott wants to go one better in the north west.

"I feel like the next step now is to win," he said when asked if the Chelsea result could be used as inspiration against City.

"Last year we went 1-0 up and then faded away in the second half, it was very disappointing in the end, losing the game.

"It's going to be the biggest test. We are in positive form in the Premier League at the moment.

"We need to concentrate on our strengths because we are quietly going about our business in the Premier League at this time.

"It is going to be the biggest test we have faced this season so far. Liverpool away wasn't good but Chelsea was a massive improvement and now City is the biggest test we are going to face all season I think.

"Everyone needs to be ready - it isn't going to be easy but, without doubt, we have a chance. We have quality throughout this whole squad.

"We need to concentrate on their main threats but you can't go into a game being afraid of teams because that is a negative straight away."

Meanwhile, 18-year-old midfielder Joe Willock has signed a new long-term contract.

The 18-year-old, who made his first-team debut in September, played for the Gunners in Thursday night's draw with Red Star.

"We would all like to congratulate Joe on his new deal, and look forward to his continued progress with the club," read an Arsenal statement.

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