By Chris Harris
Arsène Wenger is "completely happy" with his squad despite a summer that for the first time saw him lose players before they had peaked.
The Frenchman has a reputation for picking the perfect time to sell his stars - usually after they have given their best years to Arsenal. Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry, Emmanuel Petit and Marc Overmars are four examples, but there are many more.
Wenger admits that 2011 has been different. Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri were both 24 when they departed for Barcelona and Manchester City respectively and, as he prepares to face Nasri on Sunday, Wenger acknowledged that it was a sign of the footballing times.
"The financial difference between us and teams like Manchester City has become too big to hope to keep the players for eight, nine, ten years," he said.
"OK, we lost Thierry Henry, we lost Patrick Vieira, we lost players before but they had played for eight, nine years at the club.
"It's the first time now that we lose players at an age where they start to produce, like Fabregas and Nasri, who were both born in 1987 and are 24 years old. That's where you start to become a football player.
"It was a big blow personally, to me and to the Club. You need to be brave as well to put a player in at 18 years of age, and you need to make room for them, which means you not only need to stand up for the players you put in, but as well you have to kick somebody out."
Wenger responded to the loss of Fabregas and Nasri by bringing in a string of new signings and his new-look squad is challenging strongly in the Premier League and the Champions League.
"I am personally completely happy with the team I have," said the manager.
"Gervinho has come in, although we could still have played him with Nasri in the middle. But we were lucky to find Mikel Arteta, who could come into this position in midfield. That was not easy as well."Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 16 Dec 2011