After the hard fought win against Southampton, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger praised his side for their intelligence and dedication in a game that literally went down to the whistle. Both teams were playing to win, and despite the relative lack of chances, the quality of play was evident throughout. And when Sanchez (who else?) finally secured victory with the late goal, Wenger could sit back and be satisfied about Arsenal’s resurgence following the international break.
The four games we have played since the international break have been characterised by a lot more energy and purpose than we had before. Our form up till then had been shaky and inconsistent, and barring a couple of games, the players were failing to convince. But since the break Arsenal seem to have found a couple of extra gears and the results are clearly visible. Perhaps it was the return of Giroud and Koscielny that did it; maybe the team were just going through a bad phase, whatever it was, the Gunners seem to be much better now.
And Wenger hailed his side’s patience and intelligence following their victory against the Saints:
It was a game where we needed to be patient and intelligent not to make a defensive mistake. That is why we need to keep the core in the middle of the team.
[Southampton] were well organised and in the last 20 minutes you could feel they started to suffer physically and we took advantage of that. I knew before the game that we could win it in the last 15 minutes and fortunately it happened. Honestly in the second half I don’t think they had many dangerous situations.
It was difficult to keep our calm but we are professional football players. The crowd was a bit nervous but overall we kept a clean sheet and won the game. We know we can score at any moment.
The win against the Saints mean that we now have three wins in a row, and have kept clean sheets in all those games, something that seemed impossible only a few weeks ago. It is good to see the team playing with renewed confidence and hopefully they can keep up their form going into the packed Christmas period.
It is a very important period but one thing is for sure – we are not under huge pressure for game No 6 in the Champions League. [With] the week we had behind us and the week we have now, to go to Galatasaray for a decisive game would be very difficult.
At least we are not under massive pressure there so let’s focus on our next game at Stoke. It is a difficult place for us to go but let’s show there that we have improved and we can deal with it.
The Brtiannia is a tough stadium for away teams, and out attack is still not as clinical as could be hoped for. However, with a bit of luck, and of course the skills of the mighty Alexis Sanchez, I see no reason why we cannot add another three points to our tally come Saturday.