Wenger hails ‘creative’ Sanchez
SOUTHAMPTON: Arsene Wenger hailed Alexis Sanchez’s unique qualities after the Chilean opened the scoring in Arsenal’s 2-0 victory at Southampton and then created a second goal for substitute Olivier Giroud.
Wednesday’s victory took Arsenal to within three points of the Premier League top four and keeps alive the possibility of a 20th successive season of Champions League football for the north London club.
Sanchez broke the deadlock in the 60th minute at St Mary’s, gathering Mesut Oezil’s pass and leaving two defenders sprawling before firing home his 20th goal of the league campaign.
“The goal he scored tonight shows what he’s about: very good technique in a short space,” Wenger said.
“He scores important goals. He has invention in his head. He’s creative, not phased by anything, and he surprised everyone in the stadium tonight with his goal.
“Everyone was expecting him to take a shot, but he’s very quick on the move.”
It was Sanchez’s cross that Aaron Ramsey headed back across goal for Giroud to nod in the visitors’ second goal in the 83rd minute.
“Giroud came on and the second goal was very important for us, too,” Wenger added.
“We had to [dig deep] because Southampton started at a strong pace. The first half was quite even, but we were focused and determined.
“I felt if you look at individual performances you couldn’t be disappointed from the goalkeeper to Danny Welbeck. Everybody played well.”
Now Arsenal must keep the pressure on the top four by showing the same focus and winning their three remaining matches, starting at Stoke City tomorrow.
Wenger knows that even nine points might not be enough to guarantee a topfour finish, but he says his team have no option but to win the games in front of them.
“I don’t know more than you,” said the Frenchman, who is still to announce whether he will remain at Arsenal beyond the end of the season.
“But I believe that, for us, it’s important to maintain the focus and intensity in every single game.
“We’ll need another strong performance at Stoke. We came to a difficult ground today and we go to another on Saturday [tomorrow].
“We know we can only win our games and we had a strong performance on Sunday [beating Manchester United 2-0] and a strong performance today. So let’s just continue.”