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Consistency is the key for high-flying Gunners

By Mark Bryans

Published 23/12/2015

My ball: Per Mertesacker of Arsenal tackles City’s Kevin de Bruyne during Monday’s clash
My ball: Per Mertesacker of Arsenal tackles City’s Kevin de Bruyne during Monday’s clash

Per Mertesacker believes Arsenal now have the confidence to win matches in different ways - but insists they have yet to prove their title credentials.

The Gunners moved to within two points of the Premier League summit with a 2-1 victory over fellow title hopefuls Manchester City on Monday night.

First-half goals from Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud proved enough for Arsene Wenger's side at the Emirates Stadium, despite Yaya Toure's superb late strike for the visitors.

Arsenal now sit two points behind surprise leaders Leicester heading into the busy festive period with Manuel Pellegrini's Blues four points further adrift.

Much like last season's 2-0 victory at City and an important Champions League win over Bayern Munich in October, the success on Monday was based on a professional, controlled and measured approach.

And Mertesacker feels those kinds of performances, as well as free-flowing attacking displays such as the 3-0 win over Manchester United, show that Arsenal are now developing into a team that is mature enough to secure points in a manner of ways.

"We are capable of doing different things sometimes and that is what makes it harder for the opponent," he said.

"That is our thought and that is why we implement them into games sometimes, but we are still dangerous on the counter-attack and that makes us a real threat.

"Last season we played at City and we showed some different kind of match-plan.

"That is what we had in the locker already, but this year we are more consistent and it is what makes us a bit better as a unit.

"Sometimes we need to adjust, we don't have all the players available at the minute, we think that is best way to win against City but we need to trust that way as well - it is not only thinking about it, it is also about putting it in to practice.

"That is what we are doing really well at the minute but that means a lot of concentration and work in training and everyone in the game is up for the challenge."

Wenger believes Monday's win will give his side added belief as they look for their first league title since 2004, but Mertesacker knows that nothing can be taken for granted at this stage

"We haven't proven anything yet and we haven't been that consistent that we can talk about that - that is my opinion," he said.

"We go game by game and concentrate on having a game plan and trying to implement it. That has been our strength so far against the big team and it makes us stronger as a unit.

"We face the next challenge on Saturday (against Southampton).

"It is obviously a very busy time but we haven't shown some strength and the depth of the squad is vital at the minute."

City are now without an away win in the Premier League since September 12 as their own title ambitions continue to stutter.

Big-money summer signing Kevin de Bruyne summed up their evening in north London as he kicked the corner flag when trying to take a short corner, before missing the target just moments before Walcott's opener.

Toure pulled a goal back late on with a well-taken left-footed finish, but the Ivory Coast midfielder admits the better side won as City look to bounce back against Sunderland on Saturday.

"It is a bad result," said Toure.

"We lost but the team played very well and it is not easy to come to the Emirates and play like that.

"Full credit to the lads but Arsenal are a good team and it is not easy to come here and control the game. We have a chance to try and fight back on Saturday. This league this year is going to be very tight.

"After that the team started to push up but in the end we didn't do it. That is football and sometimes we have to accept we can lose close games like that.

"We are greatly disappointed but Arsenal played very well and deserved the win."

Belfast Telegraph

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