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Wenger says Arsenal can surprise critics
Timothy Collings | August 10, 2007 21:28 IST
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger expressed confidence on Friday that his youthful squad had the ability to surprise their critics and challenge for the English premier league title despite losing captain Thierry Henry [Images].
Wenger told a news conference he believed the unity, ambition and belief in his squad, plus their talent and energy, would enable Arsenal to raise their game.
"This is the start of a new era, today," he said. "We have a great inner strength.
"I have a strong feeling that we will do very well this season, much better than people think. We are aiming at Manchester United and Chelsea and I am not afraid of that."
Wenger said the departure of Henry to Barcelona would mean a change of "offensive style" for his team.
"He scored more goals for Arsenal than any other player in all of the club's history, in 130 years, so we will miss that, he is a world-class player, but we have a system of play and a strong belief and we will overcome that.
"We have a great belief and the desire for success is very strong within the squad and we are very hungry and we have shown a great togetherness in our pre-season games so we are very strongly determined and I think we will make it very hard for everybody."
He said the title race would not be down only to the big four but to "the big 20, because the premier league now is very big everywhere in the world and you can see that some clubs have spent a lot to strengthen their squad.
"Not all of them will be successful in doing it, but one certainly will so there may one or two additional contenders in for the title."
He added: "We will be a different team with everyone taking more responsibility and what is magical in football is that it is a team sport and sometimes you find that personalities grow in the team and things change."
Wenger said a good start against Fulham at home on Sunday would be important for laying the foundations for a title challenge.
"We are so determined and there is such a resolve in the squad that I am sure that every team that plays against us will have a tough time," he said
Wenger said only Togo striker Emanuel Adebayor was unavailable for Sunday's fixture through injury while Croatian striker Eduardo da Silva, signed from Dinamo Zagreb, was likely to make his debut.