Arsene Wenger was convinced the the goal would come, and rightly so. The Gunners claimed all three points in an emphatic victory over Manchester City on Sunday thanks to a sublime Mikel Artera strike that set the Emirates alight.
But Arsenal were always in the driving seat and came close on several occasions through Robin Van Persie in a flowing offensive display that saw City restricted to only a handful of chances. Wenger can be proud of his battling men as they move back into third place two points ahead of Spurs.
The only negative from an extremely solid defensive display is the two game ban that Laurent Koscielny will receive for his tenth yellow card of the season, meaning he will miss the matches against Wolves and Wigan, but luckily will return for the vital London derby with Chelsea (maybe he planned to get the caution?)
Wenger said in his post match conference:
[on Arteta’s winner and the performance] It was a very well-taken goal. I think it gave us three points that we deserved because we had a consistent domination in the game. I think we had over 60 per cent possession. They had one or two good periods, Man City, but overall after 10 minutes in the second half it was all us.
I always felt the goal would come but it was very tight and in the end you feel it is important not to lose. But we kept going and at home recently we have produced some outstanding performances against any team. I am very happy that we got the win and the team continues to grow in quality.
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[on a fast start to the game] We started strongly and stayed strong for nearly 80 minutes. I feel we had a little weaker period at the start of the second half where Man City came out a bit. But overall we had a consistent domination, we won the duels, and overall I believe the result is logical.
[on Balotelli’s challenge on Song] If the referee had television [replays] he would have given him a red card. I thought it was a bad tackle, I said to my physio ‘what happened to Song?’ because he said he was touched at the knee. I thought maybe it was a red card but I didn’t know until I saw it.
He [Balotelli] was on the fringe, in many situations, he flirted with orange a few times. In the end he got the second yellow card. I don’t know what [I would do with him], I don’t know him and it’s not my job to do that. I don’t want to interfere with Mancini’s job. Everybody has his cases in his own camp and I have enough work.
[on strengthening their position ahead of Wolves trip] Exactly. It will be a different game to today. This was a game with a lot of hype and focus, they [Man City] are involved in the championship, we are involved for the Champions League places. You have to deal now with a team that will fight not to go down so it will demand the same commitment. Wolves will fight for their survival and are dangerous as well.
[on how different the season could have been] We have taken 24 points out of 27 and the points we got, many of them were deserved. So we have improved as a team, that is 100 per cent for sure. We started from too deep and we got a blip in January that cost us severely because today we are nine points behind City. You could see that even starting where we started, if we had not lost our games in January we could be there [challenging].
[on the prospect of catching Man City] No, I don’t think so, unless they give up, but I don’t think they will.
It is crazy to think what could have been after sitting in a relegation position in August/September to now third place with only nine points separating them from second places City. If only the Gunners hadn’t lost themselves in January then an even more sensational resurgence could have been on the cards.
But to come third place this season will be a feat in itself and something Arsenal can be proud of after they have added physicality and mental strength to their stylish game that has been lacking in recent seasons and it was on display again yesterday.
But the job is far from done, but all they need to do us repeat the same hunger and desire that they produced against City and they can finish the season unbeaten.
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