By Rob Kelly
Arsène Wenger says the mental qualities shown by his group of players this season rank among the best he has seen at the Club.
Having been as low as 17th in the table in September, Arsenal have enjoyed a major revival and can seal third spot with a victory at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.
Wenger disagrees with the claim of some observers that this team is the weakest of his 15-year reign, and says they have shown real grit this term.
“It is the public perception because we played for a long time in the season in a very bad position,” he said. “After seven games we had lost four. If you lose four in your first seven you are down there.
“But we also didn’t get credit at all for knocking Udinese out [of the Champions League] and knocking Dortmund out - they won the Bundesliga quite easily and Bayern Munich are in the final of the Champions League. It was just normal!
“What was interesting this season was, first of all, the mental quality of the group. It was one of the best I’ve seen. Secondly the team has grown in quality during the season and the results in the second half have been much stronger.
“After that you must say as well the exceptional season of Robin van Persie kept us above water in a period where he scored 30 league goals. That is something exceptional.”
Despite the difficult nature of the campaign at times, Wenger says he was always satisfied with his players’ approach.
“On a daily basis it was a very enjoyable season - even in the dark times,” he said. “There is no worse situation as when you feel the players are not focused and not united or on board.
“But I always felt during the season the group was united and ready to fight. So on a daily basis that is what you enjoy the most.
“I always put a lot of pressure on myself, but maybe I was more under public pressure than before. But amazingly, I suffer more from my personal pressure.”Copyright 2017 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