Wenger predicts bright future for Arsenal youth

January 20, 2007

Arsene Wenger hopes it is not too long before his young Arsenal side emerge as genuine title challengers.

The Gunners host Barclays Premiership leaders Manchester United tomorrow knowing the championship is again all but out of reach given their current 15-point deficit.

But Wenger firmly believes this group of players have all the 'ingredients and potential' to one day assert themselves as the dominant force in English football.

While not wanting to put any timeframe on such progression, the Frenchman is hungry for it to come sooner rather than later.

'The team is developing well, that is why I am optimistic,' said Wenger, whose squad performed above their collective experience to reach the Champions League final last season.

'It looks like in my team that the young players have the ingredients not only to be very good players, but to be a winner and that makes the difference like the generation of [Paul] Scholes and [David] Beckham. They won championships, one, twice, three, four and still were hungry. They are winners.

'I believe that we have the potential to become Premiership winners - that is why I developed this team.'

Wenger added: 'Patience is not my greatest quality.

'I thought they would be ready this year - and I have not given up, we just fight to win every game.

'It is, though, a bit early for us this year, unless we have no injuries at all - Thierry Henry not out, [William] Gallas not out and to have them always in the picture.'

Arsenal may trail United by perhaps an insurmountable gap, but Wenger feels his side are nevertheless finding some consistency which they were distinctly lacking during the early part of the campaign.

He said: 'What made me angry when we lost at Fulham, to lose at West Ham was the way we lost. We did not test them really.

'We had superficial superiority, it was not good enough.'

Arsenal have now won four in a row, with just one defeat in 12 from all competitions.

Last weekend they secured a 2-0 victory at Blackburn following the dismissal of key midfielder Gilberto, who will start a three-match ban tomorrow.

Wenger said: 'What has changed is that you feel that you have something missing in the games to win the games.

'When you watch games long enough then you know you played well but in the end you will not win the game because something is missing, that can only be that little bit extra solidarity and unity, desire to win.

'They have all seen enough games to know that it is a good team, but is it a winning team?'

The Arsenal manager added: 'I do not want us to derail United - I want us to win the game, to continue the run.

'I feel at the moment that the team has found a good team attitude and a development in the way that we play the game and I just want this team to progress.'

Wenger has transformed the fortunes of the north London club since his arrival a decade ago and has overseen their move into the impressive new 60,000-seater Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners boss firmly believes the club is moving in the right direction, if somewhat slower on the pitch than when he first arrived.

Wenger said: 'In my job at Arsenal I am the guy who makes decisions and the board supports you or does not support you.

'I was lucky that over the 10 years the board supported me and I have proven that I can make the right decisions and allow the club to build the stadium.

'You have to combine results to generate the profit to build the stadium.

'I am lucky because I am in a club where I do what I want, the way I have worked is always the same, I have not known another way.'