Arsene Wenger says he welcomes Arsenal being tipped for the title claiming it’s much better than being written off before the season has even begun.
The odds on the Gunners winning the Premier League for the first time since 2004 have been slashed from 5/1 to 7/2 by William Hill following the club’s triumph over Chelsea in the Community Shield; a state of affairs that puts them third in the bookies’ reckoning behind Jose Mourinho’s reigning champions and Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City.
Speaking on the eve of the new season the boss welcomed the pressure that comes with expectation.
“Yes, of course [there’s greater expectation], but we enjoy that,” he told his pre-West Ham press conference.
“Before we suffered sometimes from the fact that at the start of the season nobody considered us at all because we lost our best players. This period is over now so we are happy to be under this kind of pressure.”
Last year Chelsea stole an early march on the rest of the Premier League before grinding out results after Christmas that saw them fend off an exciting rally from Arsenal. Asked who he thinks will set the tempo this time out Wenger, who is embarking on his 20th season in England, noted that a surprise package isn’t out of the question.
He continued: “Who will it be this season? I don’t know. For a long period last year it was West Ham. When we played at Christmas at West Ham they were fourth in the league so it could be another surprise this season.
“Chelsea won it by a margin last year so they are the favourites. After that let’s see how it goes. After 15 games you will know more about who will win the Premier League.
“Last year after 12 games we were 15 points behind Chelsea, and in the next 26 we took 58 points and Chelsea 55. That means we missed our start to the season because it was after the World Cup.
“So let’s start strong this season… I believe we have the needed ingredients. But we have a tricky start as well because we have two derbies and Liverpool in the first three games, so we have a difficult schedule from the start.
“We need to maintain our game. That’s important as well – that we develop what we do well and do not stand still. That means we develop our cohesion, our passing game. If we are capable to keep the cohesion and the solidarity we have at the moment through the 38 games, we have a good chance.”
He’s not wrong there…