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Wenger views Chelsea clash as crucial to Arsenal's campaign

Arsenal meet Chelsea on Monday night and Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is under no illusions as to the importance of the encounter. Wenger's team, for all their aspirations to be title contenders, have already lost on their travels to Chelsea and Manchester United this season.

And their record against the current champions makes grim reading - five successive defeats in the fixture, conceding 13 goals in the process.

"Of course this is a must-win game," the Frenchman said. "We have mixed feelings because we came out of both games against Chelsea and Man United this season thinking we could have won and that there wasn't a difference between the teams.

"We have a good opportunity to show that in the coming months and that our improvement is bigger than any other team because we are a very young side.

"It's about how well we respond to what happened to us at Chelsea and Man United that will be the decider for our season.

"We have played Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool away so our home form in these kind of games will be decisive.

"We are confident over taking Chelsea on at home. We face a big challenge. What we want is to produce an intelligent game full of dynamism. That is the only way we can win these big games."

Nor is Wenger reading too much into Chelsea's current run of poor form.

"Chelsea have gone through a period where results are a bit less good but that can happen to anyone in this league," he said.

"We have seen recently that any team, when you think they are on the brink of breaking through, can have a hiccup. Maybe it's just the quality of the league.

"You never know whether it's the best time to play Chelsea. Every game is specific and a new start.

"They have a little bit less confidence than they had in October but we know that winning will be down to our performance.

"We know that on Monday we will play against a top team and we do not expect any weakness on their side.

"We want to put a top-level performance in at the Emirates and show we are masters at home."

"Of course our home form in the second part of the season will be the decider."

 It's all kicking off again! Click here for the No1 coverage of Arsenal's winter market transfer news.

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Dave Williams

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