Wenger confident his youngsters will shine at Anfield

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LONDON, Oct 26 (Reuters) Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has backed his unbeaten side to maintain their impressive start to the Premier League season at Liverpool on Sunday.

Leaders Arsenal have reeled off 12 successive victories in all competitions and top the standings on 25 points from nine games.

Fourth-placed Liverpool are also unbeaten with five wins and four draws.

''At the start of the season, people said our young team would not go far, but now they are saying we have to prove ourselves against the big teams,'' Wenger told reporters on Friday. ''I feel we have the confidence and the belief now for this challenge.

''I thought we were good enough, before the start, to do this well this season, but then I am crazy enough to believe that!'' Arsenal's fine start to the season reached a new peak on Tuesday when they crushed Slavia Prague 7-0 in the Champions League.

Sunday's trip to Anfield is the first time this season that Arsenal will face another top four team.

Wenger added: ''Yes, it will be a difficult game for us, but if we can play this season against the top four like we did last season we will be very difficult to beat.'' Asked about Liverpool's form following their midweek 2-1 defeat to Besiktas in the Champions League, Wenger said: ''Yes, they lost, but it was a game they could have won. Everyone gave 100 per cent and in the Champions League, if you concede an early goal it is very difficult to chase the game.'' Wenger said he expected both of his unsettled senior players, goalkeeper Jens Lehmann and midfielder Gilberto, to be on the bench at Anfield.

''They are big personalities,'' he said, adding that he had not spoken to Lehmann since the goalkeeper's recent outburst when the German accused Wenger of ''humiliating'' him by leaving him on the bench.

REUTERS AB RAI2347

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