Wenger - Title race will be tight

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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger maintains the strength in depth of the Barclays Premier League this season will ensure no-one runs away with the title.

The Gunners head to Middlesbrough for the Saturday lunchtime kick-off some eight points adrift of leaders Liverpool, but boosted by the recent victory over rivals Chelsea.

Wenger told Arsenal TV Online: "The level of demands are higher from everywhere. People always want top, top quality with top results, but on the other hand you have better teams in the Premier League than ever and that is why it is difficult for everybody.

He added: "You cannot have on one side the best Premier League in the world and on the other side have teams just to turn up and think you will win the game. You will have surprises."

The Gunners boss, though, is determined not to suffer another shock result - and is expected to recall several first-team players who missed the midweek Champions League defeat in Porto.

He continued: "I believe we have come back into some consistency - we have beaten Chelsea and Wigan, also Kiev, and that the Porto result was a special game.

"When you get to a position where you can protect your Premier League game a bit, then you do it.

"In this case it was very important and was why we made that choice [against Porto]. Hopefully it will pay off."

Victory at the Riverside Stadium would set the Gunners up nicely for the visit of Liverpool ahead of the hectic Christmas schedule.

Wenger explained: "You have a period now where you can completely focus on the Premier League and you can set yourself a target."

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