Birmingham 0 - Arsenal 3 : Maturity is helping to toughen Gunners believes boss Wenger

Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal are "tougher mentally" this season to cope with the demands of challenging for the title.

The Gunners harnessed resilience to their customary free-flowing football in overpowering Birmingham at St Andrew's.

It was only Birmingham's second home defeat in 30 matches and this season they have beaten Chelsea and drawn with Manchester United in front of their own fans.

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Wenger feels the growing maturity of his players means they are well equipped for the battles ahead and they currently lie third, two points behind the two Manchester clubs.

He said: "We are tougher mentally this season because we have matured. Players are now in the 23-years-of-age bracket and starting to get experience. What they are doing is outstanding at that age.

"They want to win and they have learned from the previous years. It is down to mental stamina now."

Arsenal have so far taken seven points out of nine from the festive programme ahead of Wednesday's home game with Manchester City.

He said: "It is a big game. We've known since the start of December that the games at home against the big sides would have a big impact on the league.

"We have started well by beating Chelsea a few days ago.

"I think that win lifted the team and we can go into the Manchester City game with confidence."

Birmingham's concern is becoming embroiled in a relegation battle as their lack of goalpower and conceding soft goals has been evident during the first half of the campaign. Blues manager Alex McLeish said: "There is no doubt that we've got to improve in terms of taking chances during the second half of the season.

"Last season was probably similar in terms of the goals we scored but we had an awful lot of shut-outs and didn't lose as many daft goals as we have this season.

"We have lost uncharacteristic goals. It is a big challenge for the players now, a big challenge for us all, to try and put that right during the second half of the season.

"I don't think our position (19th) is a true reflection of the way we've played but the bottom line is we've not scored enough."

McLeish could lose the services of midfielder Lee Bowyer if the Football Association decide to charge him with violent conduct over an apparent stamp on Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna.