Arsenal boss Arsène Wenger has said Saturday’s victory against Newcastle United proved his side have the mental credentials to go on and win the Premier League this season.
In the past Arsenal have been praised for their footballing style and willingness to ‘play the right way’, but their collective mentality has been questioned. Teams have been labelled too soft to win the league, allegedly unable to ‘win ugly’ or come out strongly against adversity.
Saturday’s 1-0 win certainly was ugly, and the boss believes his current team is not like those of yesteryear.
“I think we are more experienced than the teams I had when I moved into the stadium here,” Wenger said. “On our day we could play everybody off the park and when you had to dig deep you experienced it was a bit more difficult. It was different.
“We were more questioned on that aspect than the way we played football. Now, (in terms of) the experience, the quality of their attitude, the team always has the charisma.”
The side really struggled on Saturday, despite a promising opening 20 minutes. There was little cutting edge on the ball and a few gaps left at the back as we became increasingly desperate.
Eventually it took a set-piece goal from centre-back Laurent Koscielny to break the deadlock and seal the sort of win people wouldn’t have expected from Arsenal five or more years ago.
“If you look at the team as a unit, it is like a person,” added the boss. “If you look at your team like a person and the vibes that are coming out – you can sense in this job if you feel it or not.
“I must say (you see) another aspect of your team in a game like (against Newcastle). It is more the mental aspect – you fight, don’t panic and wait for your chance.”
Arsenal did just that and are now sat top of the Premier League, two points clear of Leicester City and three points clear of Manchester City.
Halfway through the season, there’s a long way to go. But Arsenal have so far shown the ability to win games in different ways, and that will only serve the side well as we look to be crowned champions in May.