London, Aug 8: Arsene Wenger has warned Arsenal's title rivals that his resurgent side are finally strong enough to end the club's 12-year wait to win the Premier League.
Wenger's team kick off the new campaign against West Ham on Sunday and the mood at the Emirates Stadium will be one of unbridled optimism in the aftermath of a pair of Wembley victories that are being hailed around north London as the foundations of a sustained title challenge.
After producing a swaggering FA Cup final demolition of Aston Villa at Wembley in May, the Gunners returned to the English national stadium last weekend to secure a 1-0 victory over Chelsea in the Community Shield.
While the eye-catching Cup final performance showcased Arsenal's array of attacking talent, it was the mature way his players defended the lead against the Premier League champions on Sunday that provided most encouragement to Wenger.
Despite finishing 12 points behind Chelsea in third place last term, Arsenal have the feel of a team on the rise and Wenger is so confident in his squad that the signing of Petr Cech, the veteran goalkeeper lured across London from Stamford Bridge, was his only major pre-season signing.
Asked on the eve of the new season if he feels Arsenal can win the title for the first time since 2004, the usually conservative Wenger cast caution to the wind as he said: "I believe yes, all going well, and us maintaining 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." AFP