Mancini insists Arsenal can contend for Premier League title despite loss of Van Persie

Manchester City's boss feels that the North London side will not let the departures of key players stop them challenging for English supremacy.

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini believes that Arsenal is a serious contender for the Premier League title this season, claiming that the Gunners are “better than last season” despite the losses of Robin van Persie and Alex Song.

Arsene Wenger’s side is unbeaten start to the season, sitting third in the table, and the Gunners travel to the Eithad Stadium for a high-profile match on Sunday. Mancini observed that the departures of key players have not had a detrimental effect on the side, warning his charges against underestimating the Londoners.

"Arsenal can compete for the title this season," the Italian told reporters. "They are better than last season, even if they lost some good players. Maybe, because of that, there is less pressure on them this season.

"They lost Van Persie and Song, but the players they have brought in have experience and quality."

City come into the game off the back of a 3-2 UEFA Champions League loss to Real Madrid, in which the English side led on two occasions, only for the Spanish champions to score twice in the final five minutes to snatch all three points. Arsenal, meanwhile, rides the momentum of a 2-1 Champions League victory over Montpellier and is level with City on eight points through four matches.

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