By Richard Clarke

When the transfer window closed on September 1, Arsène Wenger was heavily criticised for not having re-enforced his squad.

This week, with Arsenal’s first-team top of the Premier League and the Reserves having just hammered Sheffield United in the Carling Cup, the issue has not been raised.

Both sides of the argument could still be proved right of course. At this point last season, Arsenal looked imperious only to falter down the home stretch when injuries told.

However it was last term’s improvement, coupled with the youngsters rapidly rising through the ranks, that helped convince Wenger to keep his cheque-book closed.

“I believe we have many good players here and we try to sort out any problems collectively as a team,” he said at Friday’s press conference.

“We lost some top-class players in the summer but we always try to produce good young players and develop them. I always feel with the youth policy, the Club has a security and even if one or two players leave, we are strong enough to cope with it.

“I was convinced by our season last year that we are strong enough to challenge again.

“Of course it is a long, long race, but we want to show we have confidence and belief in our players plus we have the stamina to do it.

“Having been in that position before, our determination not to lose our advantage is certainly greater than ever.

“We experienced a big frustration last season and, in a highly-competitive league, we want to stay where we are.

“We were very close last year and it will be close again. We want to show we have learned.”

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26 Sep 2008