Arsenal are 20 points behind Chelsea in the League, compared to five a year ago, but Arsène Wenger insisted last night that the way back to the Premiership summit remains with his emerging young players.
The Arsenal manager said: "To integrate younger players you are playing with points. There is no other way to do it. This team was prepared in 2002, 2003 and we will judge this team in May. I would love this season to be remembered as a great one. I would love to think the squad thinks exactly the same. In the League we look compromised but we want to finish as close as we can.
"I feel we are on the right way and there are exciting challenges ahead of us in the Champions' League, Carling Cup and FA Cup. And we want to show we are capable of being consistent in the League.
"We have not found our stability away from home," he added. "We have suffered since the beginning of the season. I didn't see this dip coming but we have been good at Highbury. We struggled confidence-wise and were outmuscled away from home."
With the January transfer window opening tomorrow, Wenger said that someone with experience might be bought, though he would be "comfortable" if no one was brought in.
Arsenal will lose the Ivory Coast defenders Kolo Touré and Emmanuel Eboué to the African Cup of Nations from 15 January and are still without their left-backs Ashley Cole and Gaël Clichy.
Wenger said: "I'm trying to shop. If we find one player that is good already. One who can play in midfield or defence as well. I would prefer a permanent deal because a loan is always a bit tricky.
"He would need experience, or [to] be a big talent. That is all we need. It is difficult to find the right players in January because they are cup-tied in Europe or they are players no one else wants to lose, because many clubs are playing for something."
* The runaway Championship leaders Reading have completed the signing of the goalkeeper Graham Stack from Arsenal. The former Republic of Ireland Under-21 player joined the Royals on loan during the summer and is now contracted to stay at the Madejski Stadium until the summer of 2008.