Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

United still in title hunt - Wenger

Arsene Wenger knows it is too early to rule Manchester United out of the title race

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is not about to write off Manchester United's Barclays Premier League title challenge just yet.

The Gunners moved clear at the top of the table following their 4-1 victory over Norwich and are now some eight points ahead of David Moyes' side after the Red Devils conceded a late equaliser at home to Southampton.

Wenger, though, is refusing to get carried away with league positions just yet, as Arsenal are set to travel to Old Trafford next month the weekend after they host fellow pacesetters Liverpool.

"It is too early. They are not out of the title race," Wenger said.

"We are only two points in front of all the others.

"Are Man United out of the title race? No, but of course 10 points starts to be a little gap."

Wenger continued: "If you have the choice, you want to be in the race at the top, but you cannot rule Man United out today.

"They have big players, big experience and they are a big club.

"It (points advantage) is three games basically, that is very quick in our league."

Wenger has a wealth of options in midfield, with the return to match fitness of Santi Cazorla following an ankle injuring meaning Aaron Ramsey could be rested to the bench against Norwich.

The Wales international replaced Mathieu Flamini just before half-time after the French midfielder suffered double vision following a clash of heads with Alex Tettey and is now a doubt for Tuesday night's Champions League game against Borussia Dortmund as a result.

Wenger knows he will need to fully utilise the group if Arsenal are to mount a sustained push for honours in 2014.

"We have a squad that is, number and quality wise, very, very good. After that in January we are not desperate (to buy) now," the Arsenal boss said.

"If there is a good opportunity (to buy), why not? But if you know who is out injured now, they will come back in November, the beginning of December, then you have a really massive squad."

Wenger added: "With the number of competitions involved, everybody thinks they have a chance to play. That is what is the most important.

"As long as you fight for things, everybody keeps the focus."

Wenger revealed England forward Theo Walcott would need a couple more weeks of recovery time following a minor surgical procedure on an abdominal problem.

"Theo had a set-back on Thursday. He had to stop, to jog again, I don't think we will see him against Dortmund, nor Crystal Palace nor Chelsea (in the Capital One Cup)," the Arsenal boss said.

"He is at least two weeks away now."

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