Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Gunners Get Tough to Delight Wenger

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Gunners Get Tough to Delight Wenger

Article excerpt

ARSENE Wenger believes Arsenal are "tougher mentally" this season to cope with the demands of challenging for the Barclays Premier League title.

The Gunners harnessed resilience to their customary free-flowing football in overpowering Birmingham 3-0 at St Andrew's.

It was only Birmingham's second home defeat in 30 matches and this season they have beaten Chelsea and drawn with Manchester United in front of their own fans.

Wenger feels the growing maturity of his players means they are well equipped for the battles ahead and they lie in third spot - two points behind the two Manchester clubs.

He said: "We are tougher mentally this season because we have matured.

"Players are now in the 23-years-of-age bracket and starting to gain experience.

"What they are doing is outstanding at that age. They want to win and they have learnt from the previous years. It is down to mental stamina now."

Wenger added: "I am pleased with the attitude of the whole squad and with the quality of our game.

"You could see at Birmingham they were really up for it.

"We were strong in the physical challenge, we played good football and we were mentally calm and resilient.

"It was a fantastic job by us. We had everything which makes a football game great.

"You saw outstanding football from my team."

Arsenal have so far taken seven points out of nine from the festive programme ahead of Wednesday's home clash with Manchester City.

He said: "City is a big game. We have known since the start of December the games at home against the big sides would have a big impact on the league.

"We started well by beating Chelsea a few days ago.

"That win lifted the team and we can go into the Manchester City game with confidence.

"We have played 11 out of 20 games away so far.

"We know at the Emirates we have a good opportunity to take advantage of the number of games we have to play at home - especially against the big teams. …

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