Thomas Vermaelen has insisted it is too early in the season for Arsenal's Barclays Premier League clash with Manchester United to have a major impact on the title race.
The Gunners travel to Old Trafford on Sunday already five points adrift of their opponents after just two games. Defeat would see champions United open up an eight-point lead over Arsene Wenger's men and would doubtless prompt some to write off Arsenal's title hopes for another year.
But defender Vermaelen said: "If you're going to talk already about the title, it's a little bit early. We're only two games started and it's a long, long way to the end of the season, so I don't think you have to talk about the title."
Arsenal were close to heading to Old Trafford in the worst possible shape after one of the most miserable fortnights in their recent history.
But they put their winless start to the Premier League, the double-departure of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri and a raft of injuries, suspensions and sanctions from governing bodies behind them on Wednesday night when they qualified for the Champions League group stage.
Their second-half comeback at Udinese lifted the gloom at the Emirates, as well as proving the Gunners do have the fighting spirit manager Arsene Wenger has always insisted they possess, but which they have so rarely demonstrated.
Vermaelen admitted the result was a "big boost" for the weekend, adding: "You could see we were unlucky the last few games in the league with some red cards, stuff like that."
The poor start to the season piled on the pressure for manager Wenger, who has gone six years without winning a trophy, and the knives would have been out for the Frenchman had Arsenal not stopped the rot on Wednesday. But Vermaelen insisted any criticism of Wenger is out of order.
He added: "If you look at the last few games, of course the results were not great but you could see each game has its own story. If you look at the Newcastle game, if you look at the Liverpool game, we got red cards in both.
"If you play 11 against 11, I think the result is different. You see now the results are less but it doesn't mean the boss deserves that criticism."
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