Arsene Wenger has labelled Chelsea as ‘super-favourites’ for the Premier League title after watching the leaders close in on Arsenal’s record for consecutive victories.
Antonio Conte’s side have opened up a six-point lead at the top of the table thanks to a superb run of 12 successive wins.
Chelsea have been perfect in the league since a 3-0 defeat at Arsenal on September 24 led to a change in formation from Blues boss Conte.
The west Londoners can consolidate pole position in this weekend’s clash with Stoke and Gunners manager Wenger conceded on Friday they are firm favourites to take the title.
“At the moment Chelsea are the super-favourites because they are quite big and made a big difference,” Wenger said.
“But it is theirs to lose as we say here in England. They can still lose it, at the moment they have won it but they can still lose it.
“It’s still a long way to go and very difficult for everybody so the head-to-head (matches) will have a vital importance.
“They have addressed their problems well. You have to give credit to Conte to find a solution that has balanced well his team.”
Arsenal won 13 consecutive Premier League games on their way to the title in 2001-02, extending the run to 14 the following campaign, but Wenger says he would do nothing but congratulate Chelsea if they match their single-season run.
“What they do is fantastic,” he added. “If they do it, it’s absolutely marvellous because nobody expected that.
“At the start of the season, they had a little bit of a dodgy start, but after, since they’ve changed their system, they are on a run where the confidence plays a big part.
“If they do it, you can only say ‘well done’. Record are there to be beaten and if somebody does better than you, you have to acknowledge it and say ‘well done’.”
Wenger also denied Arsenal right-back Mathieu Debuchy’s claim that he was blocked from joining Manchester United last year and hardly speaks to his fellow Frenchman.
The 31-year-old has found himself frozen out of the first-team picture at the Emirates Stadium and spent the second half of last season on loan at Bordeaux.
Debuchy has played only 16 minutes this season for the Gunners and he was quoted this week as saying he was denied the chance to move to United last January.
“They have never made an offer for him. It’s completely untrue. It’s sometimes surprising to hear things like that,” he said.
“We have communication with all the players. It’s a little bit of a frustrated article from a player who is injured, you know when you are injured you cannot play.
“I gave him last year the opportunity to go to Bordeaux on loan, but we had nobody coming in for him over the summer period and there are some things that are not true in this article.”