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LONDON — Arsene Wenger says he will not adopt an ultra-defensive approach at Premier League leaders Manchester City on Sunday, adding Arsenal “will not hide” against Pep Guardiola’s high-flying side.
City are off to the best ever start to a Premier League season with 28 points from 10 games, while they have scored 35 goals in that time.
Arsenal, meanwhile, have already lost three away games, including a 4-0 drubbing at Liverpool as their defence was repeatedly ripped apart, and sit nine points off the top in fifth.
But while Arsenal earned a 2-0 win at the Etihad Stadium with a defence-minded approach in 2015, Wenger said his side will take the game to City this time.
“We’ll of course try to play our game. We’ll not hide,” Wenger said. “When we go there, we’ll want to defend well. But we cannot go there and be focused on only defending. We want as well to play and have the ball and create dangerous situations. The best way to defend sometimes is to attack.”
That could be a dangerous approach against a team that is averaging 3.5 goals per league game and especially given Arsenal’s history of suffering losses at their main rivals in recent years, as well as the fact that centre-back Shkodran Mustafi is still out injured, meaning the slower Per Mertesacker will have to deal with City’s fast-paced attack.
But according to Wenger, it could be even more risky for Arsenal to just sit back and defend.
“When you want to play football, you have to accept the risk, and you have to play,” he said. “When you walk on the football pitch you have to accept the gamble and the risk — it’s part of the game. But you have to rate the risk. Is it a bigger risk only to defend than to attack? If a team is very strong in attack, maybe it’s a bigger risk only to defend.”
Guardiola’s team are already drawing comparisons to Wenger’s “Invincibles” from the 2003-04 campaign, with talk growing that they could go undefeated through the whole season.
Wenger, though, said it is much too early to make such predictions — and pointed to Real Madrid’s 3-1 loss to Tottenham in the Champions League on Wednesday as an example of how quickly things can change.
“It’s only 10 games played, it’s 28 to go. That’s quite a long way,” Wenger said. “They are going through a good patch. If you look at what has been said about Real Madrid three weeks ago, it shows you how fragile everything is in the