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What the papers say: Doubters start believing Arsenal title challenge

Belief that Arsenal can maintain form and put together a real title challange is growing among the nation’s sports writers, but every one of them is looking at our next two league games - against Liverpool and Manchester United - as the acid test.

Here’s what the main dailies are reporting today:

The Sun - Arsenal 2 Bolton 0
Sacha Distel will be turning in his grave. Arsene Wenger is a let-down to the country which produced the velvet-voiced crooner who made women the world over go weak at the knees. Frenchman Wenger is 58 today and other half, Annie, is in for a memorable night on the old man’s birthday. For Arsenal’s ice-cool, sophisticated and charismatic manager will celebrate his big day by dimming the lights, reaching for a bottle of red . . . and watching Newcastle v Spurs on TV.

The Times - Arsene Wenger high-flyers get tough at the top
It has become the received wisdom that Arsenal’s title credentials can be properly assessed only after their next two matches, against Liverpool and Manchester United, but games such as this could prove even more significant. Arsène Wenger’s team lost only one of six meetings with their top-four rivals last season, beating United twice, yet dropped 15 points at home against teams who finished below them. Sending Bolton Wanderers to the bottom of the league shows that they mean business this time.

The Mirror - Arsenal 2-0 Bolton
The French are rated the world's greatest romantics, but Annie Wenger probably knows her husband well enough by now not to expect a cosy candlelit dinner. Instead, Arsene Wenger will celebrate his 58th birthday tonight sat in front of the TV watching Newcastle against Tottenham and maybe indulge in one glass of wine.

The Independent - Nolan issues a rallying cry to crisis club Bolton
The Arsenal fans had a look at their future on Saturday and it must have been worrying. Not the immediate outlook, that appears glorious. Their young team is at the top of the Premier League playing football as beautiful as it is effective, and a spanking new stadium is banking unprecedented income.

The Telegraph - Arsenal refuse be bullied by Bolton
John F Kennedy once said: "When written in Chinese, the word 'crisis' is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity." Sitting 20 points adrift of Arsenal and already staring into the abyss that is relegation, Bolton could be forgiven for disbelieving the second part of that statement.

The Guardian - School of hard Knox offers Wenger proof of Arsenal's new resilience
Arsene Wenger says he already has all the socks he can use and the main present he might allow himself this evening, on his 58th birthday, is a single glass of wine while he watches Newcastle United's match with Tottenham Hotspur on television. It sounds like the ascetic treat expected of the Arsenal manager but his life truly has its rich pleasures.

The Daily Mail - Wenger has all he needs to send Bolton plummeting to bottom
Arsene Wenger is 58 today. He has a flourishing young team unbeaten this season, boardroom stability, his own bronze bust in the making and lots of socks. So what can you buy for the manager who has everything? When asked, Wenger spoke of happiness for his players but he would probably settle for six gift-wrapped points from his next two Premier League games, against Liverpool and Manchester United.

The Daily Express - Wenger boys ready for a gun fight
The day before this bruising, testosterone-filled encounter Arsene Wenger joked he would have liked his newly-unveiled bronze bust to have been a little bit more muscular – “like Schwarzenegger”. Well, just like celluloid Arnie of old, the Wenger Boys proved they now have the pecs to go with pace and ability.

The Daily Star - Arsenal gunning for reds’ crown
Arsenal have revealed their plans to join Manchester United as football’s biggest superpowers.

Got an opinion on any of these stories? Then share it with your fellow Pies readers in our comments section below.

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Posted by Gordon Masson on October 22, 2007 12:03 PM in Match Report| News| Players
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