Wenger: Our time is now
Arsene Wenger feels the time is now for his young Arsenal squad. The Gunners may be ready to bring veteran former captain Patrick Vieira back to the club, but their manager insists the current crop led by Cesc Fabregas can deliver.
Arsenal host Atletico Madrid in the Emirates Cup this afternoon, as their preparations continue for the new campaign and the quest for a first trophy since 2005. "This team has improved a lot as compared to last season, Wenger said.
"They played 21 games unbeaten from November until the end of the season. We reached the semi-final of the Champions League, FA Cup. We have a squad which is very ambitious. We have the basic quality, they have international quality and are under 23, so their best time is now.
"We have developed a style and culture of play that everybody accepts, so I feel confident and very strong. Our focus should not be who can help us from outside, but who can help us from inside."
Vieira, 33, is reportedly ready to make a shock comeback to the team he left for Juventus in 2005. With both forward Emmanuel Adebayor and defender Kolo Toure having joined big-spending Manchester City, Wenger certainly has the funds available to move for his old enforcer, most likely on a pay-as-you-play deal.
Vieira is surplus to requirements at Inter Milan. Although arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur, newly-promoted Birmingham City and French side Paris Saint-Germain have made public their interest, Wenger remained coy about his plans when quizzed ahead of this weekend's Emirates Cup tournament, which also features Scottish champions Rangers.
However, the Arsenal manager, who is also tracking Bordeaux's Moroccan attacker Marouane Chamakh, refused to rule out a reunion with Vieira, who spent nine glorious years at Highbury.
"There is a football decision and there is a psychological impact of a player of that stature coming in," he said. "But at the moment we need to look at the level of experience in your squad to make this kind of decision. We are nowhere near to making a decision like that, but it is a possibility.
"We do not rule it out and we do not say we will do it - and that is my decision at the moment. I am aware that he wants to come here. I think Patrick is a legend here and he would always like to come back to this club.
"That would be his first choice. With emotion you always like the club you spent time with. But as a professional as well, you always give 100 per cent for whichever club you sign for."