Arsene Wenger maintains Arsenal have not "stood still" - and declared his young Gunners will "have a word to say" again in the Barclays Premier League title race next season.
Although the deficit on champions Manchester United, who knocked Arsenal out of Europe, stands at some 18 points heading into Sunday's last round of matches, when Stoke come to Emirates Stadium on Sunday, Wenger insists his squad continue to make relative progress.
"The level of competition is very high in England, but I believe we will have a word to say next season," Wenger said.
"We were in the Champions League final in 2006, the quarter-final last year and the semi-final this year. Last year we nearly won the [Premier League] championship, this year we did not - but we have not stood still in the last four years like many people have suggested.
"I know bigger clubs who have gone out in the last 16 of the Champions League in the last five years."
Wenger added: "If you are a top player, when you are 23, then you normally start to perform at the level of the Champions League - these players have 40 or 50 Champions League games at 22 years old. They are much ahead of the programme here."
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