Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal’s pre-season form has shown they can become a force to be reckoned with again.
The Gunners got their hands on their first piece of silverware since lifting the FA Cup in 2005 when yesterday’s victory over Inter Milan saw them finish top in the four-team Emirates Cup.
A fine goal from fit-again Robin van Persie settled matters 2-1 against the Italians late on to cap a weekend of promising performances following their training camp in Austria.
Wenger will now prepare his squad for the trip to Holland and the Amsterdam Tournament.
With the likes of Theo Walcott, Tomas Rosicky and Emmanuel Adebayor all set to feature later this week, the Arsenal boss will be able to fine-tune his plans for the Barclays Premier League opener against Fulham on August 12.
By then, the club hope to have finally received a work permit from the Home Office for summer signing Eduardo da Silva. The Brazil-born Croatian international has an appeal on Thursday.
Wenger used the games against Paris St Germain and Inter to experiment with formations and personnel.
The Gunners boss was more than happy with the results.
“What I have learned is that the team loves to play together,” he said.
“It has also shown that the spirit in the side is absolutely fantastic.
“This victory – we do not class it as a trophy – builds up the belief of the team, which was needed because we did not have the greatest season last season confidence wise.
“It shows we can do well.”
Wenger, though, once again found himself fielding questions about off-field matters.
The French coach was photographed with former Arsenal vice-chairman Dein – who left the club last season following “irreconcilable differences” with the board – after the pair had dinner together in London last week.
Wenger, however, insisted it was ’simply’ a meeting between two friends and that topics exchanged certainly did not include a potential buy-out of the club by American shareholder Stan Kroenke.
“The story is as simple as ever,” he insisted.
“I’ve been friends with David Dein before I was at Arsenal. I was friends with him during his stay here and I’m still friends since he’s departed. It’s as simple as that.
“I said the other day, I know I have a responsibility here and I want to stand up for it. My friendship with David is something different.
“For a long period it was mixed with the life of the club, but it is no longer mixed with that.”
Wenger was unequivocal about the absence of Arsenal’s future as a topic of conversation with his friend.
“We didn’t discuss the future at Arsenal,” he said.
“He still asked me how it was going at Arsenal, how is the team going? I have no influence in the shareholders.
“I’ve never been a shareholder. I’m an employee who is responsible for the technical side of the club.”
Wenger also revealed an announcement is anticipated “shortly” on winger Jose Antonio Reyes, the Arsenal manager confirming he would not be returning to the club following a loan spell at Real Madrid.
Athletico Madrid are said to be leading the chase for his services.
The Arsenal manager also insisted there was “no truth” in the report he had already lined up former Newcastle manager Glenn Roeder for the position of director of football at Emirates Stadium.
However, Wenger said: “He would feature on a list of candidates, though.”