Following Arsenal FC’s 2-0 win over Southampton on Saturday at the Emirates, coach Arsene Wenger admitted that it was very important for his side to bounce back after previous matchday’s disappointment of losing to Manchester United.
The Gunners lost 1-0 to the Red Devils in the final league game before the international break. A defeat to a title rival had the potential of affecting their morale and positive momentum, but they swiftly recovered from that setback last night, much to Wenger’s relief.
Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, the Frenchman said: “It was great for us. After our loss at Man United it was vital to win again. When you lose a big game like that and you have a break it is on your mind for two weeks and is very difficult to digest. When players come back from an international break you never know, they have concentration problems sometimes, but our team was focused today.”
He did concede though that his side were far from their best and needed opposition’s help, including a goalkeeping howler from Saints goalie Artur Boruc, to take all three points.
“We couldn’t take our chances today, but we took advantage of their mistakes,” he said.”It was a very important win for us against a very good team who have shown why they are in the top four in the league. For us it was a bit backs-to-the-wall and a good win. That can happen to any goalkeeper, the players are so quick to close you down. Maybe he was a bit over-confident. It was a bit lucky for us, but credit to Giroud, he closed him down well. We could have had more goals, but we couldn’t take our chances. Southampton defend very well and they showed today why they had only conceded five goals from the start of the season.”
The 64-year-old then pointed at the scrappy nature of the win to claim that his side has the character to win the Premier League title this season.
“We have a long way to go, but we have the ambition, the focus, the concentration and the desire are there,” Wenger added. “We played against a good Southampton side today who tried to stop us from playing. Overall you could see why they have played a draw at Manchester United and why they had won at Liverpool. They are a team who is very well organised and our technical quality helped us to get away with a win today.”
January Signings Not a Priority Anymore
Arsene Wenger says that the return to full fitness of Theo Walcott and the imminent comeback of Lukas Podolski have eased up his attacking worries, and now it’s not imperative for him to delve into the January transfer market for a new striker.
“Yes, Podolski is not back as well (yet), but he shouldn’t be too far now,” the Gunners boss said. “Theo gives us an opportunity to be a mobile striker. If we lose Giroud today we have nobody with body weight up front, apart from Bendtner. I think Bendtner has the level, but at the moment he doesn’t get enough games – and as well, in his head, is he here or has he planned to go (in January)?
“Theo gives us qualities that other players haven’t got, it is a different option. We have a lot of players who like to come to the ball, so to have one or two who go behind and create space in the middle, it gives us options to score.”
Discussing his usual strategy for the winter windows, he added: “I don’t say I never make a mistake – I certainly made some, sometimes it is because we didn’t sign the right player. But it is always difficult in the middle of the season. If somebody is doing well somewhere, the clubs do not necessarily want to sell him. They can wait until the end of the season. Most of the time it is because we didn’t find (him).”
Giroud Praised for ‘Physical Presence’
Arsene Wenger sang striker Olivier Giroud’s praises after the France international’s double strike sank Southampton 2-0 at the Emirates on Saturday.
Giroud, 27, was at his physical best as he hassled and jostled with the Saints defence all game long and forced their goalkeeper Artur Boruc into making an error that led to him scoring the opening goal. He then doubled his tally in the second half from the penalty spot, warranting Wenger’s compliments after the game.
The Arsenal manager said: “Olivier is a positive character who is always ready for a battle and he is maybe a little bit completely different to the rest of the team, but he gives us so much with his physical presence, with his link play which he has improved tremendously. He has the mental qualities… he has a positive attitude.”
Wenger then delved into his narrative about the shortage of quality strikers in Europe.
“Europe produces still fantastic football players, but if you look well we don’t produce in Europe any more strikers, or very few,” he said. “All the big strikers today come from South America. You look at the summer period – you had Falcao going to Monaco [in a] big transfer, [Edinson] Cavani going to Paris Saint-Germain, [Luis] Suarez – everybody wanted to buy him. [Gonzalo] Higuain has gone to Naples [Napoli] for a lot of money.
“That’s an area where in Europe it’s very difficult to find because we produce less strikers. Even a country like Germany where I remember in every big club they had a big striker, they have produced fantastic players but they do not produce young strikers. Is that a consequence of the way we coach? Is that a consequence of modern life? I don’t know.”