Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes that his side have now provided evidence of the strength and spirit required to end their long wait for a Premier League title.
It is nine years since Arsenal last won a trophy and 10 years since they won the league, but the last-gasp 2-0 New Year’s Day win over Cardiff City confirmed their credentials as championship contenders.
While Manchester City and Chelsea remain on their coattails, Arsenal continue to defy those expecting them to fall away.
With time almost up and the game against Cardiff looking beyond them, goals from substitute Nicklas Bendtner and Theo Walcott secured a win that kept them at the top of the table.
“We have a good togetherness in the side,” Wenger said. “The players come on with the right attitude and that makes the difference. You know that if you do not have that in the championship, then you have no chance to do it. We have that in the squad.”
Bendtner was the hero against Cardiff after making the breakthrough with just two minutes left.
Once jeered by the Arsenal fans, the Denmark striker is slowly winning round those who had written him off after he spent the past two seasons out on loan.
However, Wenger revealed that he had sustained an ankle injury that is likely to keep him out for several weeks.
“He is a player who has gone through some difficult periods, so I just want to give him great credit,” Wenger said. “I told him already today [Wednesday] that he is back to the level I want him to be at and if he continues to develop like that he will come back into the team. Unfortunately, he has got injured and it looks like it is not a question of days, but weeks with a sprained ankle.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was in the directors’ box as he edges closer to taking charge of Cardiff City following Malky Mackay’s well-documented sacking.
The former Manchester United striker, now managing in his native Norway with Molde FK, would have been impressed by his potential new side and Wenger believes he stands to inherit a team capable of avoiding relegation.
“It is a chance for Ole,” Wenger said. “Basically, what you want when you are young is a chance and after you have to make the maximum of that chance. He has already experience as a manager in Norway, so he has learned his job. He was an intelligent player, so he is an intelligent boy as well, and that will help him to be successful.”