London: Arsenal have mostly played second fiddle in the English Premier League (EPL) title race over the years, but manager Arsene Wenger believes his team have the self-belief and focus to emerge champions this season.
Arsenal have always boasted some of the best players in the English Premier in their line-up. But despite their quality and entertaining style, they have almost always struggled to keep up the intensity in the final stretch of the title race. The last time they won the title was more than a decade ago, in the 2003-04 season.
The London outfit had given themselves a great chance to regain the title in 2011 when they were within one point of league leaders Manchester United at the end of February, But their campaign fell apart from there and a run of just one league win throughout March and April ended their title challenge.
They had ultimately finished fourth, 12 points off the pace eventual winners United.
Wenger blamed the attitude of some of his former players as being responsible for that infamous debacle.
“The mood of some players was more to get the next contract somewhere else than to win the championship because at the time we had to sell our players. I would say we lost it because the spirit was not exactly what it should be because of individual tap ups,” Wenger said.
The 66-year-old Frenchman opined that the improvement in Arsenal’s financial position since then has helped to ensure that his latest batch of players are focused on winning the title this season.
“At that time we were losing momentum, this time it’s the opposite: we are chasing and gaining momentum. We had two difficult games recently (a 0-0 draw with Hull City in the FA Cup and a 2-0 Champions League defeat to Barcelona), but overall the psychological situation is different,” Wenger was quoted as saying by the Guardian on Saturday.
“Also, we were very young at that time … and the mood of some players was more to get the next contract somewhere else than to win the championship because at the time we had to sell our players. When we went into April some of the players were tapped up to go somewhere else and it was difficult to maintain the focus. That’s not the case at the moment.”
“All the players are focused and want to win and have great solidarity. It’s down to showing how good we are. The psychological situation is different today. Spirit-wise, I cannot criticise. In 2010, I would say we lost it because the spirit was not what it should be because of individual tap-ups,” he added.