Watching Arsenal crumble to humiliation at Old Trafford and plunge into the lower reaches of the Premier League might have been one of the most difficult periods of Arsène Wenger's career, but the Frenchman insists he enjoyed an experience which brought out his team's true character.
It is more than a month since Wenger saw his team lose and more than two since the 8-2 humbling at Manchester United – the nadir of his 15-year reign. That defeat capped a dreadful start in which Arsenal managed just four points from five games as they struggled to incorporate nine new signings.
The 62-year-old, of course, is delighted to put those dark days behind him, but he is adamant the lessons learned will stand his side in good stead. "It was tough, because we did not win games but it was enjoyable," said the Arsenal manager. "You could feel the core strength of the team was very positive.I have felt the spirit of the dressing room is good, and they would do absolutely everything to get out of it.
"Ideally, you want to go a whole season without losing a game, but that does not happen a lot. Everybody has to face a period when it goes less well. The team which wins is the one which has had the least periods when it has not gone so well. Have we got through the storm? You never know."
He insisted yesterday his team can look to challenge for the Premier League title if they are in a strong position by the end of December – when they will have travelled to Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham . He stressed that, with "a big squad" already in place, he does not feel the need to strengthen his hand in January, even in attack, with Gervinho and Theo Walcott at his disposal to support Robin van Persie.