The Gunners coach thinks that his side have rediscovered a steeliness that critics have declared absent over recent seasons after they held on to beat Newcastle 1-0
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes that his side have developed something “special” by way of their improved mental strength after watching them beat Newcastle 1-0.
The visitors took the lead midway through the second half through Olivier Giroud and, not for the first time this season, they showed great resilience as they staved off late pressure from the Magpies to take all three points.
The Gunners have consistently been at the right end of the table but have not won the title since 2004 and Wenger feels that they have finally taken a step forward mentally this season.
“There is something in the team that is special on that front, on the mental front, where we have many times been questioned,” the Frenchman told the press.
“We have shown that at West Ham when we were 1-0 down and we have shown it [on Sunday] with our backs against the wall a little in the last 15 minutes. There is a great solidarity and a great spirit in the side.
“For years we were younger. We have always been up there at the top. This time last year we were out of the championship race but in 2013 we have been very consistent.”
The Arsenal boss would not be drawn on whether or not his side are capable of winning the league, though, stating that it is still to early for title talk just yet.
“We believe in ourselves and we are determined to give our best absolutely and to turn back on this season at the end and think we have given our best,” he remarked. “I hope it will be enough, of course, but it’s a long way to go, it’s too early to say that.”
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew, meanwhile, expressed his disappointment with some of the decisions made by referee Lee Probert at St James’s Park but argued that his players could take a lot of encouragement from their performance.
“Really and truly, we’ve come out on the wrong side here,” the Magpies boss claimed. “A few breaks went against in terms of decisions and that was probably the difference.
“There was definitely a foul on [Vurnon] Anita, without a shadow of a doubt. I don’’t want to say the referee had a poor game but sometimes he sees these calls and sometimes they go your way, sometimes they don’t. At Stoke we had all the calls go our way and today perhaps we’re on the other side of it.
“A lot of my players can take massive players in the way they performed in that game.
“We’ve got our best players fit – if we can keep them fit for the rest of the season then we can replicate what we’ve done in the first half of the season, maybe even better it.”