Arsene Wenger says he’s pleased with the way new boys Lucas Perez and Shkodran Mustafi have settled since signing for Arsenal and believes their age and experience is further proof his squad have the necessary qualities to mount a title challenge.
Both Lucas and Mustafi have spent the last couple of days training with their new teammates and could make their debuts against Southampton tomorrow before the Gunners commence their Champions League campaign away at PSG on Tuesday.
“They have settled very quickly and very well, so the real test is the games,” Wenger told media on Friday.
“We will see and know very soon, but what they do in training is promising. A least they have the quality and focus in training that we expected and on that front I’m very happy.
“We did [the deals] quite early compared to some other clubs because we finished our job on Saturday and the transfer deadline was on Wednesday. It was earlier than expected, because it was a quick turnaround on Saturday morning which we didn’t expect to go so quickly.
“They bring us qualities. Mustafi is a young centre back and already has international experience. Lucas is an interesting striker who is versatile, can play on the flank and especially though the middle. He can score goals and can also provide a good number of assists. With the way I like to play, that’s an interesting quality.”
Wenger’s squads have repeatedly been labelled naïve and lightweight in the 12 years since the Gunners last won the title, accusations that the boss played down at the time. Comparing his current crop with those of yesteryear, the Frenchman played up the fact he can now call on men rather than boys.
“I would say it’s the most mature squad I’ve had for a long time, because they are men,” added Wenger.
“They are not 19 or 20 years old, they are 24, 27, 28 and the whole squad is quite mature.
“It’s the first time for a long time that I’ve had a team of what you can call men ready to compete. After, we have to show that we are good enough to beat everybody else.
“I always believe we have a chance, even when we had young players. Certainly I haven’t had a squad of players [like this] for a long time, who have enough experience to compete.”