LONDON, Dec 25 – Arsene Wenger has claimed that Arsenal's last four trophy-less seasons have given him more satisfaction than any other spell in his long career with the Premier League team.Wenger’s side have failed to win major silverware since lifting the FA Cup in 2005, but the Gunners boss, who arrived in north London 1996, believes the progress made by the club on and off the pitch makes it the most rewarding time.
The Frenchman has overseen Arsenal’s move to the Emirates Stadium, the construction of a new training ground and the development of a hugely successful youth academy.
"For me the best period at the club is the last four years but unfortunately it is also the period where we have not won trophies," Wenger said.
"But people forget we have been reasonably consistent and it has been the most difficult period, but as well for me, the period where I worked the best.
"Moving into a new stadium, with less resources, people should respect the fact we have still made some money in every single year without the team dropping a level and maintaining a successful period in the Champions League and reasonably in the league. I think it was quite difficult.
"The last four years have been the most challenging. It’s not linked with the fact we have won no trophies. I think it is moving into the new stadium and keeping the team at the top."
Wenger, reflecting on his 13-year reign in a webchat with arsenal.com, admits there have been positive and negative changes to the Premier League since his arrival from Japan’s Grampus Eight.
He is happy to be part of a league with such a renowned global brand, but feels the vast sums of money spent by top clubs have made the game too serious.
"It has become a worldwide product and when I travel nowadays I see how popular this league has become and we shouldn’t take it for granted in England," he said.
"Firstly it’s a worldwide product, secondly the ownership has changed completely, the structure of the game has changed. And don’t forget, for example, referees have become completely professional.
"The league has become much more professional, the pressure has become much bigger, financial input has become much bigger which means the quality of the games has become much better.
"All that has changed. In some ways for good, and some ways a bit more negatively because it’s less relaxed. Everybody is a bit more tense.
"I felt 13 years ago a defeat was less dramatic than it is now, it’s much more dramatic and tense.
"It is because of money and it is all about the Champions League now, being in the top four. A few years ago it was a bit more open and as soon as you are a bit out from what is expected of you now, it is a crisis."