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Eddie Howe: 'Arsenal are not far away from challenging for title'

Eddie Howe: 'Arsenal are not far away from challenging for title'
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The Gunners have not won the Premier League title since 2004.

Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe believes Arsenal's recent Premier League struggles have prompted "a lot of over-reaction" and feels they are not far away from mounting a title challenge.

Gunners head coach Mikel Arteta is tasked with bringing the glory days back to the Emirates Stadium after being named Unai Emery's permanent successor last month.

The north London club, who are currently languishing in 10th position, last won the league title in 2004 and have fallen behind their top-four rivals in recent seasons, failing to qualify for the Champions League in each of the last three.

Spaniard Arteta began his tenure with a 1-1 draw against the Cherries on Boxing Day and is preparing to return to the Vitality Stadium for Monday's FA Cup fourth-round tie.

Howe is a big admirer of his fellow manager and has backed him to transform Arsenal's top-flight fortunes.

"I don't think they are far away (from being title challengers). I think there's a lot of over-reaction in many different phases to different teams' form," said Howe.

"It just takes one good season – obviously there needs to be an upturn in consistent results.

"They've got a very good manager now, they've good players – I think they've had very good managers historically but sometimes you just need things to click into place.

"But I think a lot of the top sides are sort of in that moment where they are rebuilding to sustain a challenge and I think Arsenal will be one of those teams."

Howe was touted as a potential successor to Emery before the Arsenal board turned to former Manchester City assistant coach Arteta following Freddie Ljungberg's short, unsuccessful spell as interim boss.

The 42-year-old has since been forced to deny rumours he had been asked to resign from his current role following an alarming slump which has left Bournemouth in the relegation zone.

Howe accepts the disparity between recent reports about his future are part of being a football manager.

"It just goes with the territory and you understand that. You know how short-term everything can be," he said.

"I've said before, you're either good, or you're bad, you are bracketed into that. I've got no problem with that.

"It's very much how it is and that's why I don't think you can get associated with it yourself.

"You just have to let other people define you and you just carry on with your work."

Arsenal's only major silverware since their last title success has come in the FA Cup.

The Gunners have lifted the cup on four occasions in that period, including three times in the previous six seasons during the reign of Arsene Wenger.

Despite many Premier League managers using the competition to rest first-team players, Howe expects Arteta to field a strong line-up.

"I don't fear he'll put out a strong team, I know he'll put out a strong team because he's manager of Arsenal and they've got good players," said Howe.

"It will be a good game, I've got no doubt that they'll play a strong team.

"We'll play our strongest team that I have fit and available to me and it should be a good game."

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