Football: Arsenal's Wenger wary of Everton exam

Arsene Wenger admits Arsenal's status as serious contenders for the Premier League title will be given a stern examination by Everton on Saturday, Aug 23, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Arsene Wenger admits Arsenal's status as serious contenders for the Premier League title will be given a stern examination by Everton on Saturday, Aug 23, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - Arsene Wenger admits Arsenal's status as serious contenders for the Premier League title will be given a stern examination by Everton on Saturday.

Wenger's side head to Goodison Park looking to lay down a marker after an unconvincing start to the season.

The Gunners needed a last-gasp goal from Aaron Ramsey to clinch a barely-deserved 2-1 win over Crystal Palace in their Premier League opener and then emerged with a hard-fought 0-0 draw from their Champions League play-off round first leg tie at Besiktas in midweek.

Arsenal repeatedly came up short in their biggest away matches last season, suffering heavy defeats at Everton, Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea.

And victory at a top-four challenger like Everton would provide Wenger and his players with the perfect response to critics who claim the north Londoners are still too fragile to last the pace in the title race.

"Everton is always a good opponent that tells you where you are, and for us it is a good test," Wenger said.

"We have a good opportunity on Saturday to show that we have moved forward and that we are stronger than last year.

"It will be interesting because Everton are a team now flirting with the Champions League places. We want of course to have a good result away from home."

Everton manager Roberto Martinez is also aware of the significance of Saturday's clash as he assesses whether his side are capable of improving on last season's fifth place finish.

"I am pleased we are playing two of the best teams in the league now in Arsenal and Chelsea before the window closes," he said.

"That is going to give us a real opportunity to see if we have to do anything or help the players we have at the club."