By Richard Clarke

It would make headline news if Arsène Wenger said his team were NOT good enough to fight for the Premiership crown this season. However, after a couple of years finishing fourth in the league, you can hardly blame journalists for asking the Arsenal manager that very question after their pre-season campaign began with a win over Barnet on Saturday - even if they knew the response.
"That is the aim of the season," he said. "We are Arsenal. The environment looks very strong but when you go with a young team you feel you can improve every year.
"The players want to prove they have the quality. I believe they do have the quality I just want them to express their talent with belief."
The departure of Thierry Henry leaves extra responsibility on the remaining strikers but Wenger is clear on the jobs Robin van Persie, Emmanuel Adebayor and Eduardo must fulfil.
"They have to create efficiency in our attacking game and replace the 25 goals per season that Thierry gave us every season," he said.
"We lost a world-class player who did extremely well for us. Nobody will reach his numbers in the history of the Club. He played eight great years for the club and he was 30 so maybe he did not have the patience anymore to let the young team develop. You can understand that. I feel it was a tough decision for Thierry. The injury and not playing for a period of time had a big influence on his mind.
"But when you lose a world-class player you can only hope to get yourself on a level where you can complete again. It means that some other players have to take more responsibility."

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Richard Clarke 16 Jul 2007