Arsene Wenger is reknowned for bringing talented youngsters through the Arsenal Academy and making them into a team capable of challenging for the Premier League title, but although there have been a few near misses over the years they have not quite managed to reach the pinnacle.
In recent years though Wenger has brought in more mature players that are the finished product, like Sanchez, Ozil and Cech, and he now believes that he has assembled a team of mature “men” that can really take the club all the way to the top.
Wenger said in this morning’s pre-game press conference that Mustafi and Lucas could be the last pieces of his jigsaw puzzle: “They have settled very quickly and very well, so the real test is the games,” he said.
“We will see and know very soon, but what they do in training is promising. A least they have the quality and focus in training that we expected and on that front I’m very happy.
“We did [the deals] quite early compared to some other clubs because we finished our job on Saturday and the transfer deadline was on Wednesday. It was earlier than expected, because it was a quick turnaround on Saturday morning which we didn’t expect to go so quickly.
“They bring us qualities. Mustafi is a young centre back and already has international experience. Lucas is an interesting striker who is versatile, can play on the flank and especially though the middle. He can score goals and can also provide a good number of assists. With the way I like to play, that’s an interesting quality.
“I would say it’s the most mature squad I’ve had for a long time, because they are men,” added Wenger. “They are not 19 or 20 years old, they are 24, 27, 28 and the whole squad is quite mature.
“It’s the first time for a long time that I’ve had a team of what you can call men ready to compete. After, we have to show that we are good enough to beat everybody else.
“I always believe we have a chance, even when we had young players. Certainly I haven’t had a squad of players [like this] for a long time, who have enough experience to compete.”
So does this mean that he has finally realized that “you can’t win the title with boys” and will continue making sure that the bulk of his team is made up of experienced and quality players?