William Gallas insists Arsenal are ready to prove they are genuine title contenders and not just young pretenders.
The French international has seen a change in attitude among the Club’s younger players since returning to pre-season training and says they are determined to demonstrate their title credentials.
“They are professionals and they have had one more year's experience behind them,” said Gallas, speaking at the London launch of the Premier League’s Creating Chances campaign. “As far as I'm concerned they will be ready this season. I realised that during pre-season. What I saw during the tournaments - against Paris St-Germain, Inter, Ajax and Lazio - it was different.
“The spirit was different. Everybody fought for his team-mate and when you see that you realise.
I don't know why it's changed but something clearly has. I can't call them 'the kids' - they're not kids any more - but the young players really want to win a trophy. They won't be bullied this season. They don't want people to keep saying Arsenal are just young kids. When I train with them I don't see them as young kids any more. I see only players who are ready to fight this season.”
With many of Arsenal’s rivals spending record amounts this summer, Gallas believes the battle for the Premiership will no longer be restricted to the ‘Big Four’. With Arsenal themselves buoyed by the signings of Eduardo and Bacary Sagna, the defender has warned Chelsea and Manchester United there are more teams than ever vying to end their duopoly over the league crown.
“People talk only about [Manchester] United or Chelsea winning the league, though this season will be different,” he said. “A lot of clubs will be ready for the title race, like Tottenham, like Portsmouth, like us. So the Premier League will be very exciting.“This pre-season hasn't gone too badly. The Ajax game was a bit tough but, in the end, we did a good job. That has helped our confidence going into the season.
“I don't think a team can beat us by being more physical than us this season. I think we can give a good answer. There are teams that just want to play the long ball and you have to be ready. You have to be physical and to fight and I think we will be physical enough to cope with that this time.
“There are other clubs, like Arsenal, who will also be challenging and no-one can say who is definitely going to win the title.”