Cesc Fabregas says ‘there was never any doubt’ that Arsenal were involved in a three-way Premier League title race this season and feels his former club ‘100 per cent’ believe they can ‘achieve big things’.
After a string of disappointing results over the winter period, Arsenal – last year’s runners-up – have rediscovered their edge and now sit just two points behind league leaders Liverpool in third place.
Last weekend’s heavyweight clash with Liverpool was billed as a potential title decider and the Gunners passed the test with flying colours as goals from Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Leandro Trossard sealed a statement 3-1 victory.
Mikel Arteta’s men will look to make it four wins from four on Sunday when they travel to the London Stadium to face West Ham, whose most recent victory came in the reverse fixture at the Emirates at the end of December.
The north London giants are set to welcome Takehiro Tomiyasu back into the fold following his return from the Asia Cup, but Thomas Partey remains sidelined and Arteta is sweating over the fitness of Gabriel Jesus.
Asked if Arsenal’s win last weekend confirmed the club were part of a three-way title race with Liverpool and Manchester City, Fabregas told the Planet Premier League podcast: ‘Was there any doubt about this? It’s still early, it’s early February.
‘Nobody is going to take Manchester City out of the question and Liverpool were on fire up until now.
‘Arsenal are hungry, they are growing. We always said here in the last few weeks that they were going to get opportunities to be up there.’
The ex-Arsenal captain feels Arteta has instilled a real sense of belief and confidence in his squad that they can win major silverware at the end of the season.
‘They are a team that believes now that they can achieve big things, 100 per cent,’ Fabregas added.
‘There was no doubt that this could be going into the end of the season.’
Gary Neville, meanwhile, was impressed by Arsenal’s defeat of Liverpool, though doubts Arteta’s side have the ‘killer instinct’ to compete with their title rivals in the business end of the season.
‘I think Arsenal actually when I watched them are a better team than Liverpool,’ the former Manchester United and England right-back said on Sky Sports.
‘But I think Liverpool are more ruthless team. They’re more ruthless in the final third. And I think that could just cost them at the end.
‘I mean, at the start of the season said I thought Arsenal would win the league but still there’s so many signs today of Arsenal not having that killer instinct in the final part of the pitch that I think at some point in the last part of this season is going to hurt them.
‘So for me, they’re a really well coached team, their system is good, that way of playing is good, but just that really important last bit, they’ve got [Diogo] Jota, they’ve got [Mohamed] Salah, they’ve got [Cody] Gakpo, they’ve got [Luis] Diaz, they’ve got so much threat Liverpool.’
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