Wenger: Gun­ners had to steady their nerves

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

ARSENE WENGER ad­mit­ted Arsenal had to con­quer their nerves be­fore se­cur­ing the 3-1 win that thrust them back in the Premier League ti­tle race.

Wenger’s side had fallen six points be­hind lead­ers Chelsea af­ter draw­ing three of their last four League games and they were in dan­ger of an­other dam­ag­ing set­back at the Emi­rates Sta­dium on Sun­day.

Hav­ing led through Alexis Sanchez’s early goal, the Gun­ners were pegged back by Cal­lum Wil­son’s con­tro­ver­sial penalty mid­way through the first half.

With the Arsenal faith­ful get­ting rest­less, Wenger re­vealed he had tried to calm his play­ers down at half­time as they wres­tled with the anx­i­eties caused by three suc­ces­sive draws.

They re­sponded to Wenger’s pep talk by scor­ing twice af­ter half­time through Theo Walcott and Sanchez (car­i­ca­ture) to move within three points of Chelsea.

“We started well but when they equalised we be­came ner­vous,” Wenger said.

“That is where the three draws were on our mind. It was down to us to calm down at half­time and just fo­cus on the game.”

Wenger was frus­trated by ref­eree Mike Jones’ de­ci­sion to award Bournemouth’s penalty for an in­nocu­ous col­li­sion be­tween Wil­son and Na­cho Mon­real and he was fear­ing the worst at that point.

“My view is we should have had a penalty on Sanchez and Bournemouth’s was a very soft one,” he said.

“It was shoul­der to shoul­der. I was re­ally amazed he gave it.

“We be­came ner­vous and they be­came more dy­namic. For me it’s not ex­actly the side I wanted to play. They are a tricky side and keep the ball well.”

Driven on by the ir­re­press­ible Sanchez, Arsenal even­tu­ally find their rhythm in the sec­ond half and Wenger was quick to pay trib­ute to the Chile for­ward, who has scored 10 goals this sea­son. “Sanchez, even though he looks dead he is still alive. He finds the re­sources to win the ball and do some­thing spe­cial,” Wenger said. “He has the guts. He has that con­di­tion­ing which al­lows him to al­ways find an ex­tra gear to be dan­ger­ous.” Wenger said he knows keep­ing Sanchez is es­sen­tial if Arsenal are to chal­lenge for ma­jor sil­ver­ware, even if per­for­mances like this mean he could de­mand a big­ger salary. Asked if Arsenal were any closer to ty­ing up a con­tract ex­ten­sion with Sanchez, Wenger added: “It is im­por­tant, how im­por­tant I don’t know.

“We won’t do that tonight. We have some time.

“You (the me­dia) like us to spend money, so you should be happy!”

Bournemouth man­ager Ed­die Howe was frus­trated that his team left empty-handed de­spite an en­ter­pris­ing dis­play and he took a shot at Jones for fail­ing to award his team a sec­ond penalty for a hand­ball by Mon­real.

“We were well in that game, we cre­ated a num­ber of chances. The 3-1 score­line is dif­fi­cult to take,” he said.

“It’s dif­fi­cult here, es­pe­cially when you are Bournemouth. A cou­ple of things have gone against us.

“I’m not a fan of re­ally soft penal­ties, but a bit of con­sis­tency seems to have gone out of the game.

“But we were with­out a num­ber of play­ers to­day and there wasn’t much be­tween the teams.

“The fu­ture of the team is good. I back us to be okay this sea­son.” – AFP

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