Saturday 1 October 2016

Arsene Wenger: Derby draw shows Arsenal can deal with pressure

Published 06/03/2016 | 22:46

Arsene Wenger saw his 10 men rescue a point at Tottenham
Arsene Wenger saw his 10 men rescue a point at Tottenham

Arsene Wenger believes his Arsenal side have shown they can deal with the constant pressure of expectation from the club's fans.

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The Gunners rescued a point from their north London derby at Tottenham on Saturday lunchtime as Alexis Sanchez scored an equaliser to seal a 2-2 draw despite Arsenal being down to 10 men.

Aaron Ramsey had given the visitors the lead at White Hart Lane before Francis Coquelin was sent off for two cautions - with Tottenham turning the game on its head as Toby Alderweireld and Harry Kane struck in the space of two minutes.

Having lost three games in succession heading into the game, Arsenal showed enough desire to get back in the game through Sanchez, who had questioned the squad's hunger to win the Barclays Premier League title.

Swansea had won at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night as Arsenal fans rounded on their players - with former striker Thierry Henry saying he had never heard supporters as angry as they were following the defeat.

But Wenger has praised his players for showing they can handle the negative response from supporters to their poor performances.

"Look, I'm like everybody, I prefer that the fans are happy," he said.

"But I'm more worried that it can get to the players' confidence level, but I feel we have shown a great response as a team today that we can deal with that, we analyse that well. We gave the right response.

"We have to focus on what is our job and do it well. They've shown today that even if the confidence is not high, they can play well."

Danny Welbeck missed a great chance at 1-0 but is looking lively following his return from 10 months out with a knee injury and was chosen as Wenger's preferred option up front at Spurs.

But the manager has been told that the England international still cannot play a full 90 minutes as he strives for match fitness.

"He has worked very hard," Wenger said of the former Manchester United man.

"I have seen every day the effort he has put in. Someone is telling me always 'in the Premier League he cannot play the whole game' but I have seen what he has done in training and I got a lot of encouragement from that.

"Even when I took him off you could still see that if needed he had a little burst to go. But from then on I thought maybe we do not want a setback for him.

"Medically they have questioned his knee is not true completely and so they are still a bit worried, but he looks perfect.

"I felt as well that he could give them problems with pace. I like him in there because he is a combination of pace and stature.

"He has a good mixture. So when Danny Welbeck is determined and really goes for it and he is ready for the fight, he has all the attributes to play up there."

Welbeck himself admits he is not as sharp as he was before the knee problem, which required surgery in September.

"Yes, it is difficult being out for so long and coming straight back into the team," he said.

"With the intensity at Spurs I found it quite difficult but I try and give my best every single game and see how it goes.

"It is going to take a while I think. I don't feel as sharp as I did before my operation and I don't know how long it will take but I'm getting fitter and stronger each week."

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