Arsène Wenger believes Arsenal are back in a position to compete with the biggest clubs to sign the best players.
The Frenchman is set to take charge of his 1,000th match at Arsenal when they face Chelsea in the lunchtime kick-off on Saturday.
When asked about the perceived split in success between the first and second halves of his reign, Wenger insisted there were mitigating factors.
“When I one day look back I will certainly be very proud of what I have done [in the second half],” he said. “This was a trophyless period but a much more difficult and sensitive period, where it needed much more commitment and strength than in the first part of my stay here.
“I went for a challenge that I knew would be difficult because we had to fight with clubs who lose £150 million per year and we had to make £30 million. On top of that we had to stand up with people telling us we had to beat them.
“Look, if I ask you tomorrow to race with Usain Bolt and win the race, you’ll realise quickly it is difficult.
“I accepted to stay here a long time knowing that we had little chance to win the Premier League, but I think now we are in a position again where we can fight with other clubs to sign big players. I think we can be proud of the consistency of our achievement at the club.”