By Chris Harris
Arsène Wenger has urged his players to relax and play with freedom - because no one expected them to challenge for the title this season.
Arsenal were written off as Premier League also-rans last summer with many reasoning that the decision to sell Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure to Manchester City would help the top flight's richest club usurp Wenger's side in the top four.
But Arsenal have proved the doubters wrong, topping the table as recently as January 23 before slipping up against Aston Villa and Manchester United at the end of last month.
Wenger felt his players were inhibited during their 3-1 defeat against the champions and wants them to play without fear when their title credentials go on the line against leaders Chelsea on Sunday.
"I believe we should be more relaxed at this time because at the start of the season nobody expected us in the top four or in the title race," explained the manager.
"Now, instead of being intimidated, I believe we have to really have a go because we are entitled to have it.
"The biggest regret I have from Sunday [against Manchester United] is that we gave them too much freedom and allowed them too much to play in a game where we should have been dictating.
"My players wanted it so much that sometimes you can be a little bit restricted and our target is to get that freedom to play in this game [against Chelsea]."

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5 Feb 2010