Gunners star confident ahead of Chelsea clash

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Manuel Almunia sees no reason why Arsenal should not be confident of once again clawing themselves back into the race for the Barclays Premier League title - starting at Chelsea on Sunday.

The Blues missed the chance to tighten their grip on the top of the table on Tuesday night when they could only manage a 1-1 draw at relegation battlers Hull.

Arsenal may have been unable to rise to the challenge against Manchester United last weekend, as the champions ran out comfortable 3-1 winners at the Emirates Stadium, but victory at Stamford Bridge for the second season in a row would cut the deficit on Chelsea down to just three points.

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"We are on schedule to do good things this season, we have only a little step to get back to the top of the league," said Arsenal goalkeeper Almunia.

"When you think about where we were after the Chelsea game [in November], that is a great achievement.

"Sometimes it is better to come back from third or fourth to challenge than to be at the top all the time."

Arsenal may have won at Anfield, but they have lost both home and away to United. Their recent form against Chelsea is not encouraging, with the Blues winning an FA Cup semi-final clash at Wembley in April and then romping to a 4-1 win in north London a month later.

Wenger, though, will take some solace from United's poor record against their direct title rivals last season, which did not stop the Red Devils going on to claim a third successive championship.

"I always felt the games against the rest of the top four would determine the league", the Arsenal boss said.

"But last year Manchester United proved me wrong on that - they won the title after taking just five points from those six games."

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Premier League
Manuel Almunia

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