Arsenal forward Theo Walcott says the “mental strength in this dressing room’s the strongest it’s ever been” – with Petr Cech playing a key part.
The Gunners reclaimed top spot in the Premier League with Sunday’s 0-0 draw at Stoke at a ground where they have won only once in their last eight trips.
Key to the result they secured this time was their goalkeeper Petr Cech, who made several excellent saves to mark the latest in a string of fine performances he has produced since joining from Chelsea last summer.
Arsenal, last crowned Premier League champions in 2004, have in Cech acquired a player who has won the title four times since then, including last season.
Walcott, with the club since 2006, believes there is greater mental toughness in the camp now than he has ever known before.
He is in no doubt Cech has been a vital part of that and is someone he and his team-mates must continue to take inspiration from.
“The mental strength in this dressing room’s the strongest it’s ever been,” Walcott said.
“When you have the likes of Petr Cech coming in, he just enhances that. He’s a leader.
“We’ve just got to look at him because he’s obviously been at the top level and won many things. If we all have the belief he’s got, we can push on.”
After Sunday’s game – in which Cech’s Stoke counterpart Jack Butland was also a stand-out performer – Gunners boss Wenger praised his players for the “physical response” and “fighting spirit” they had shown in what he had regarded as a “battle”.
And those words were echoed by Walcott.
“We felt from the start physically we were up for the fight and the battle,” the 26-year-old England international said.
“It’s an improvement from previous performances here. We’ve got to be proud of that point.”