Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger feels a new-found belief and discipline has his team better placed for a title push this season.
Wenger’s men are second in the Premier League – two points adrift of leaders Manchester City – and claimed a confidence-boosting 2-0 win over Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Ahead of their clash at home to Everton on Saturday, Wenger says the attitude at Arsenal has changed.
“We have strengthened our belief with our run last season, from January 1 you could feel there was really a change in our stability,” the Frenchman said.
“We have shown that we can handle the pressure. What is the most important for me is to continue to develop as a team, to feel that we grow in the quality of our game.
“We have maybe a better discipline. People reproached us many times, ‘OK, Arsenal play football, but they are a bit fragile.’
“Before, maybe, when we were not dominating completely the game, we were a bit insecure.”
Wenger’s men took a different approach against Bayern, seemingly prepared to sacrifice possession on their way to victory.
Mesut Ozil’s late goal sealed Arsenal’s surprise, and much-needed, triumph at the Emirates Stadium and Wenger said the Germany international had developed a hunger to win.
“He is 27 now,” Wenger said.
“It is the golden age of a football player – 27 to 31, 32 – the age when you know your job. You realise suddenly that it is not only important to play, it is important to win as well.
“Under 25, you think you can last for ever. Once you get to 27, you realise it’s time to capitalise on what you have learned and efficiency takes a little bit over the playing mood.
“His talent is fantastic. Sometimes I think he sacrifices himself for the team.”