Arsene Wenger believes that his current crop of Arsenal players have more grit and experience than some teams he has managed in their trophyless period. The Gunners had gone nine years without a trophy, before winning the FA Cup in consecutive years and are currently looking to end their decade-long wait without the title.
Their win over Newcastle United saw them open up some space between themselves and second placed Leicester City, who have gone off the boil during the festive period, taking only two points from their last three games in the league. Meanwhile, the Gunners, after a chastening experience against Southampton, where they were thumped 4-0, have managed to turn things around, winning their next two games against Bournemouth and Newcastle.
Arsenal fans have seen many false dawns for them to be wary of their current position in the table, with the north London club having squandered this position twice in the 2007/08 season and the 2013/14 season. However, Wenger believes that this year can be difficult, with the likes of Olivier Giroud, Petr Cech, Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and others bringing in the required title winning experience to the squad, which in recent years have been lacking leaders on the pitch to guide them through a tricky period.
"I think we are more experienced than the teams I had when I moved into the stadium here," Wenger told Arsenal's official website. "On our day we could play everybody off the park and when you had to dig deep you experience it was a bit more difficult. It was different.
"Now, the experience, the quality of their attitude, the team always has the charisma. If you look at the team as a unit, it is like person. 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. We were more questioned on that aspect than the way we played football.
"I also believe that everyone else's organisation has improved. What is even more [surprising] is physically you won games in maybe the last 20 minutes when you were superior technically. That is not the case anymore.
"When you go forward, the team against you in transition always has the resources to come out and kill you. Look at the players who come on. They always have the quality to finish you off when you go for it. That is something new," he added.