It was the no-nonsense performance of his defenders that really caught the eye of the Arsenal manager.
“We are a bit more mature now, but we dealt well with [Stoke’s game plan],” Wenger said. “Crouch is a handful because he is not only physical, he is technically very good. He uses space well and in his link-play he is an international player. Overall I think we had a serious game.
“We were a bit younger and inexperienced [in the past] but defensively today you could see that in Sagna, Nacho, Koscielny and Mertesacker we have some experience and stature there. We are not small at the back.
“In England you have to deal with all types of football without losing your qualities in how you want to play. It is not always easy, because if you have a team of 10 Santi Cazorla's technically you would be very good but against a team like Stoke you would struggle.”