Arsene Wenger has called on Arsenal to start building the momentum which can drive them to the Premier League title with victory over big-spending Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium tonight. The Gunners have so far enjoyed a decent return from their Christmas fixtures, beating Chelsea on 27 December, before drawing at Wigan Athletic and then seeing off Birmingham City 3-0 at St Andrew's on New Year's Day.
Although Arsenal hold a match in hand on City, whom they trail by two points, they will have played one more than leaders Manchester United by full-time tonight when victory could move them back to within two of the top. Given that the likes of Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur are also within striking distance, Wenger knows full well it will be the team which is strongest from here on in who are set to be at the summit the only time it really matters on 22 May.
"There are five teams in the fight," he said. "Some teams have a bit more belief than others, but that can change very quickly. Overall it promises to be a very interesting sprint. You always have a team after Christmas who finds a momentum, and this team will win the championship."
The Arsenal manager is happy enough with his team's current form, but accepts things could have been even better. "I have a two-point frustration, but I am very happy with the attitude of the players and the team, and the way we improve from game to game," said Wenger, who had made eight changes for the trip to Wigan, where his side conceded a late equaliser against ten men.
Arsenal for once have the majority of their first-team squad available, with left-back Kieran Gibbs likely to be in contention for Saturday's FA Cup tie against Leeds United after an ankle problem. Wenger revealed that welcome scenario would probably now determine his transfer policy during January.
"Midfield and up front, no, but at the back, it just depends on [Thomas] Vermaelen," he said. "I am just waiting to know more about him, and then at the end of January will have to make a decision."
City are set to add the £27m purchase of Edin Dzeko from Wolfsburg to what has been an unprecedented level of investment seen at any English top-flight club since Sheikh Mansour took over at Eastlands in 2008. Wenger, though, insisted other teams can have no complaints as they look to get success the best way they can.
"What is fantastic in football is there is no given formula," he said. "I personally am a big fan of the way we do it, so I try to be successful with the way we do it. You can also do it the way Inter [Milan] do, or Manchester City do - they buy the best players in the world, and it works as well. What I want to show is it works our way as well."