Djourou - Title race more intense than ever
By Chris Harris
Johan Djourou expects an intense title race this season with more contenders than ever - but he thinks Arsenal will have the edge.
The traditional Big Four of Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool filled the top four spots in the Premier League for four consecutive seasons until 2010 when Tottenham finally broke up that quartet, while Manchester City secured a Champions League place last season.
Liverpool were the team to drop out of the top four on both occasions but they have invested heavily in recent months under new manager Kenny Dalglish while City's riches should see them strengthen their squad before the transfer window closes.
Man United manager Sir Alex Ferguson predicted this week that any one of those six clubs could be crowned champions and Djourou can understand why.
Arsenal defender Johan Djourou has said speculation about the sale of captain Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona has not been a distraction for the club's players.
The Gunners had rejected an initial bid from the Catalans but are expecting an improved offer for the 24-year-old.
"We know there will be stories but we know what we're aiming for and what our goal is," Djourou told the BBC.
"We want to be successful so we don't really get distracted by this. If he [Fabregas] goes, he goes."
Experience is very important but now if you look around this team we have been here for a long time, so it's no more an excuse to say we don't have experience
While Djourou remains hopeful that his team-mate will stay at the Emirates, he said the departure of Fabregas would provide others with opportunities to impress.
Last season, it was suggested that French midfielder Samir Nasri was more effective when the Spaniard was not in the side, a perspective Djourou understands.