Mathieu Flamini says squad stability and the ability to acquire big name players are the key differences between the current Arsenal set-up and the one he left in favour of AC Milan in 2008.
Pinpointing two consecutive FA Cup victories as proof the Gunners are developing a ‘winning mentality’ after a long stretch without silverware the Frenchman believes he and his teammates are now well placed to mount a serious title bid.
“There is a lot of confidence because we are starting to win,” Flamini told press ahead of Sunday’s Community Shield match with Chelsea.
“For 10 years Arsenal didn’t win anything and we have won the FA Cup twice and it’s starting to become in the mentality. Winning is very important. That’s the first point.
“Then also, we have attracted a lot of quality to the team with some very big signings. We have kept the same group. Nobody left, and that’s very important because when you keep your key players, keep the same group, year after year, players get used to playing together.
“If you remember before, there were always a few players leaving and now he [Arsene Wenger] is keeping the players together and that’s very important.
“I can feel Arsenal now is different to the club I left in 2008. I don’t think any of the key players left in the last two years. It’s a great example. And each year we have added quality players like Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Petr Cech. These are players who can make the difference at any moment. So I think we have a very good chance.”
Flamini also revealed he’s surprised that Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho didn’t do more to block Petr Cech’s move to Arsenal. The Czech international put pen-to-paper on a deal at the Emirates earlier in the month after coming to an arrangement with Russian owener Roman Abramovich.
Insisting it’s up to the Gunners to take advantage of their transfer window good fortune, the veteran midfielder explained: “I was surprised by Mourinho because he really doesn’t do that.
“He’s a competitor and usually doesn’t like to sell any players to his rivals. But it’s a good favour for us and now we have to take advantage. It’s a top signing. That’s why we have been lucky on this one.
“It’s very important. Not only for his quality but also for his character. When you play at the top level, the leaders on the pitch make the difference. Not only when things go well but especially when things go bad. So, for us, Petr Cech is a top signing. He is someone with character, someone with a winning mentality.”