By Richard Clarke  

At some point in every season, a team must reveal its true character.

Even in the "Invincible" campaign of 2004, Arsenal went out of the FA Cup on April 3, the Champions League on April 6 and trailed 2-1 to Liverpool at half-time on April 9 before producing a scintillating comeback.   

Arsène Wenger's side lost two-thirds of a treble that week but recovered to win the title and, with it, secure a record that will be hard to repeat.

Despite some off-colour displays in important games, history will project them in a golden glow.

The current team won't be seen in the same light just yet. But the manager is happy to look past those recent defeats in Manchester and the frailties of the win at Standard Liege on Wednesday to suggest his team will portray a forceful personality in the coming months.

"We have matured and are a team who can deal better with key moments in the game," asserted the manager at his press conference ahead of the home game with Wigan.

"That is why we were frustrated in our last game against Manchester City because, when we came back to 1-1, we looked to be the more likely winner.

"For me there was a bit of a mental-fatigue factor in both Manchester games. The players had all been away on international duty and, at Man United, you could see in the second half that we had played a Champions League game three days before. I can explain it a little bit like that.

"But I am very confident we will learn from what has happened to us and, in the longer term, our maturity will come out.

"Tactically we are able to dominate games much more now, physically we can respond to the challenges every game offers us.
"I feel it was important to get back to winning habits at Standard Liege on Wednesday to not drop our confidence level. But it is still a very important game for us tomorrow."

Wenger was without nine players in Belgium. Only one, albeit Robin van Persie, returns on Saturday. Manuel Almunia (chest infection), Andrey Arshavin (groin) Theo Walcott (back), Samir Nasri  (leg), Denilson (back), Lukasz Fabianski, Johan Djourou (both knee) and Carlos Vela (ankle) are all out.

Wenger described Walcott, Arshavin and Vela as "days away" but actually only the Mexican is likely to involved before next weekend.

Wigan were sated by safety relatively early last season and, as a consequence, their form tailed off badly. That did not stop Sunderland snaffling manager Steve Bruce and midfielder Lee Cattermole then Manchester United swooping for their best player, Antonio Valencia.

You sense the Latics are getting used to regular departures these days and have gone about rebuilding with a positive brand of ingenuity. They have brought in Roberto Martinez from Swansea, arguably the brightest young manager in the lower leagues.

To many, the Spaniard's side have a free-flowing style akin to Wenger's men. The Frenchman admitted he barely knew Martinez but suggested he had a "positive philosophy".

Certainly, the "Liquorice Allsorts" transfer policy that Martinez has employed seems to be maintaining their lofty level. Despite a 5-0 home drubbing by Manchester United, wins over West Ham and Aston Villa have taken them to 11th in the nascent table.

"They are doing quite well," said Wenger. "They work very well with their players and their scouting department. They make good decisions in buying players and again, this season, they have found good midfielders. They always discover players in areas where nobody else goes.  

"For me the biggest threat tomorrow is that Wigan look quite solid as a team. If we do not win the ball back [effectively] they will be a big danger because they pass the ball well. They try to have a very positive passing game and that's why, if we are not focused in defending as a team, we will suffer.

"As for us, I feel it is very important to be strong at the Emirates. So far we have played four games but three have been away in difficult places for everybody else.

"The Emirates will be the decider how strong we fight for the title."

As will the character his Arsenal side display whether they are home or away.

Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source
11 Sep 2009