Wenger wants harder edge to Gunners

ARSENE WENGER accepts it is time for Arsenal to address their reputation as a soft touch against their main rivals.

The Gunners’ record when facing Chelsea and Manchester United is abysmal, losing 14 of their 18 encounters since 2007 and registering only two victories.

Chelsea visit Emirates Stadium on Monday night hoping to secure a sixth successive victory over their London rivals having scored 13 goals in their previous five games.

Tormentor in chief has been striker Didier Drogba, who has hit the target 13 times in as many appearances against Arsenal and has never tasteddefeat in the fixture. The statisticspartially explain why the Gunners have failed to win the Barclays Premier League during that period, though Wenger refuses to pay them too much attention.

“Of course we have a point to prove given our record against the big teams,” he said. “You have to show that you are up to the level expected from you in these games.

“That’s the obstacle to get over. At home in the big games, you want to win.

“We don’t really think about the record because the statistics are history and every game is a new start.

“Our statistics recently are against us because we have a very young team.

“But three years ago, we lost the small games and didn’t lose the big games but still lost the championship so we have to combine both sides of it.

“We are in a strong position now and we know our home form against the big teams will be the decider for the championship.”

Wenger believes developing greater self-confidence is the key to Arsenal taking the crucial step of finally beating Chelsea or Manchester United.

“We need to add that fraction of belief and transform the frustration we had in both games into commitment and determination,” he said.

“It’s good to feel that there is no difference between both teams but it’s better to beat them and we are conscious that we have to add something that is a cold, determined attitude and belief that was missing a little bit.

“Having said that, at Chelsea and Man United this season, we conceded first to unbelievable goals so it’simportant that we are tight defensively against them.”

Wenger, meanwhile, has sarcastically mocked Nani after the Manchester United winger dismissed the Gunners’ Premier League title bid.

Nani believes United, who lead Arsenal by two points with a game in hand, only need to worry about the challenge of Chelsea.

Wenger, however, is not impressed by the Portuguese winger’s comments.

“Everybody has a different opinion in this league and nobody is perfect,’’ the 61-year-old said.

“We live in a society where everybody knows everything and it is a shame to say, ‘I don't know’.

“I personally don’t know who will win the league and I have managed 1,600 games. If Nani knows he must be 1,600 times more intelligent than I am.’’

Arsenal have had to cope without star centre-back Thomas Vermaelen since September, when the Belgian sustained an Achilles injury.

But Wenger is optimistic Vermaelen will be fit for the first team early in the new year.

The Arsenal boss said: “He has been out for a long, long time. We arehopeful that he we will be back inJanuary.’’

Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie are available to make their first start together since August.

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