Mancini believes Arsenal can compete

MANCHESTER - Roberto Mancini has warned his Manchester City stars that Arsenal are real contenders for the Premier League title and pose a serious threat to the champions at Eastlands today.

City suffered a disappointing draw with Stoke City last weekend and then crashed to a dramatic 3-2 defeat against Spanish champions Real Madrid in the Uefa Champions League on Tuesday.

They go into today's game hoping to get back to winning ways, but Mancini is expecting a tough test against a team who have been in good form of late despite losing Robin van Persie and Alex Song last month.

"I don't think we have an easy game," Mancini said. "When you start the season after a European Championship, you have problems with some injuries. I don't think it will be easy. It is important that we do a good performance.

"I think Arsenal can compete for the title. I don't know if they are better than last year but there is less pressure than last year. They have lost two or three important players but I am sure they will play for the title. Arsenal have good players, Manchester City the same. It is a good game for people who come."

Arsenal's campaign has taken a significant upturn after successive goalless draws in the opening two games of the season prompted early mutterings about the club's prospects.

Last weekend's impressive 6-1 home defeat of Southampton has diminished fears that Arsene Wenger's side will not be able to compensate for the loss of Van Persie's goals and, while the midweek Champions League victory in Montpellier was no stroll, it nonetheless provided the Gunners with their third successive victory. – Reuters

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