Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal have now put Robin van Persie’s departure behind them as they chase third place in the Premier League.
The Frenchman accepts that it took his side a while to adjust to life without him after their former captain and star striker moved to Manchester United last summer.
Wenger’s own position at the Emirates Stadium has even been called into question by critics at times this season, with the Gunners at one point dropping as low as 10th in the Premier League.
However, Wenger’s men have regrouped well since seemingly dropping out of contention for a top-four finish, with the Frenchman pin-pointing the Champions League win over Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena as the catalyst for their upturn in form.
As a result of their improvement, third place isn’t now beyond them either heading into tomorrow’s final game at Newcastle, although they do need Chelsea to slip up to Everton.
Wenger feels it is testament to the strength of character of a squad which was rebuilt around Lukas Podolski, Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud following the acrimonious departure of captain Van Persie to Manchester United for £24million.
The Gunners boss said: “This team suffered for a very long time from a lack of confidence because you take the talisman away – Robin van Persie – and get the new players in, then you lose the first big games and suddenly we are faced with scepticism around the team. You could see that.
“That was the problem and balancing the team took a while, to find a formula to have a good balance in the team. Since this has been back, we have been very efficient.
“The Bayern Munich away game was very important, you could feel after that we could do it, that helped.
“I never felt this team lacked focus or desire to do well but we lacked confidence for a while.”