Wenger: Character got us through
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has hailed his side’s character and how far they have come since the beginning of the season.
The Gunners chief also reserved praise for Thomas Vermaelen’s determination in the 1-1 draw against Fulham at Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
“We could have lost this game earlier in the season,” said Wenger. “You have to give credit to Fulham, they defended well and their goalkeeper played well.
“They saved the ball on the line. It happens only to us that the defenders play behind the goalkeepers. It happened at Norwich and against Fulham. But you have to give them credit for that.”
Wenger admitted disappointment at not securing another home win, but it did not temper his general satisfaction at their recent run.
“Overall if you look back at where we came from we have a long unbeaten run and of course we are disappointed because we dropped two points,” he added. “But I feel we are in a way of improvement and hopefully we can show that again Tuesday night.”
The reference to Tuesday night is regarding Arsenal’s Carling Cup quarter-final against Manchester City.
On Vermaelen, Wenger praised the Belgian’s character after he put the visitors ahead with a miskick into his own goal, only to then score the equaliser.
Wenger said: “I believe he scored unfortunately [for the own goal] – left-footed players many times refuse to play with their right foot.
“But he has shown enough character to come back and score a great goal. On crosses he is very good, he reads the ball well. Overall he had a very good game.”
The Frenchman also spoke of the need to rotate his squad come tomorrow evening, due to a number of players suffering from fatigue and so risking injury, and suggested this might have been a factor in his side’s subdued performance up until the Fulham goal went in.
“Some players are on the fringe muscle-wise,” concluded Wenger. “It is a punctual problem because we gave a lot on Wednesday night [against Borussia Dortmund].
“It is the shortest time you can get Wednesday night to Saturday afternoon. But it is not an excuse. It is an explanation.
“We want to be in the Champions League so we cannot cry when we are tired. Our challenge is to win these kinds of games even when we are tired.”