arsenal add steel to mix

LONDON - Arsene Wenger has warned Arsenal's title rivals that his side have the physical strength and willpower to win the Premier League.

LONDON - Arsene Wenger has warned Arsenal's title rivals that his side have the physical strength and willpower to win the Premier League.

Wenger's team moved into first place in the table with a 4-2 win over Bolton at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday that underlined a new-found ability to flex their muscles.

While Arsenal have always had an impressive creative streak, they have often crumbled under pressure from opponents intent on kicking them into submission. Judging by the way they stood up to Bolton's aggressive game plan twice in four days to overhaul previous leaders Chelsea on goals scored, that is no longer the case.

They refused to buckle after Bolton stormed into a two-goal lead and mixed brain with brawn to romp home thanks to goals from Tomas Rosicky, Cesc Fabregas, Thomas Vermaelen and Andrey Arshavin.

William Gallas undoubtedly went too far with a nasty stamp on Bolton midfielder Mark Davies that went unpunished in the build-up to Fabregas's equaliser. The visitors were rightly infuriated.

Wenger apologised for Gallas's tackle but he admitted he was delighted with Arsenal's resilience.

"We had two difficult games against a team with a new manager and our mental and physical strength was tested in both games," he said.

"We are certainly much more physical. I think we can mix it. You are never better tested physically than when you face Bolton."

Wenger's men will need that extra fortitude in the coming weeks. In the space of 14 days, the Gunners travel to Aston Villa, host Manchester United, make the short trip to Chelsea and then entertain Liverpool. - Sapa-AFP

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