LIVERPOOL, England, Oct 29 (Reuters) Arsenal proved their Premier League title-winning credentials with their performance in 1-1 draw at Liverpool, manager Arsene Wenger said.
The Gunners came from behind to take a deserved point when midfielder Cesc Fabregas's goal cancelled out an early opener from Steven Gerrard and move back to the top of the standings.
''I have been confident since the beginning of the season and I hope we have convinced a few more people,'' Wenger told reporters yesterday.
''There is a long way to go but in my opinion we have the talent to fight to be champions,'' he said.
''We have come out of this big test a stronger team. We played without any hand brake or restrictions.'' The win capped a good week for Arsenal, who had beaten Slavia Prague 7-0 in the Champions League in midweek.
''We played how we wanted to play, using our technical qualities and our movement,'' Wenger said.
''What is different from last season? We have confidence now and we are more mature.'' Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez's gamble on using Spanish duo Fernando Torres and Xabi Alonso so soon after injury failed with the pair both limping off.
Torres suffered a recurrence of his adductor muscle problem, while Alonso was forced off when his metatarsal injury flared up again.
It was bad news for Benitez in a week when Liverpool lost again in Europe to severely dent their chances of qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League.
''In the end we had too many problems against a good team,'' Benitez told reporters.
''But it was a pity to draw this game. We had a goal lead and had two or three more chances and if we had scored then it would have made a big difference,'' he said.
''The players did show a lot of commitment and worked very hard against an Arsenal team that is sharp and confident and moves the ball quickly.'' Liverpool took the lead through a fierce Gerrard free kick that found a gap in the Arsenal wall in the sixth minute.
Arsenal, however, dominated possession and Fabregas missed an open goal before scoring the equaliser 10 minutes from time with a sharp, low finish from Alexander Hleb's clever pass.
Looking ahead to next Saturday's home game against second-placed Manchester United, Wenger said: ''The only thing I can say is that it's a test and we go into that match a lot stronger.'' REUTERS TB KP1018