Monday 19 February 2018

Martinez hails rock-like Barry as Wenger vents frustration

Jamie Holland

WHILE Ross Barkley produced Everton's standout performance, Toffees manager Roberto Martinez also found time to praise the contribution of Gareth Barry, on loan from Manchester City.

He said: "I've never seen such a level-headed footballer. He never gets emotional. We don't have enough specialists in that position in the English game. Michael Carrick is the only other player.

"We produce box-to-box midfielders, but we don't produce that tactical player who plays in front of the back four.

"Every team spends a fortune on that No 6 – Fernandinho, Paulinho, Sandro, Lucas. We don't produce them.

"Carrick and Barry are the only two. Managers in the Premier League need to take responsibility to develop players that other countries do."

Even though Arsenal did not win, their lead at the top of the Premier League is now five points, with games against Manchester City away next Saturday and Chelsea at home on December 23 promising to give them a clear indication of where they stand in the title race.

Wenger's team travel to Napoli tomorrow knowing that they will qualify for the knock out stages of the Champions League on Wednesday if they avoid a three-goal defeat.

Were they serious title contenders now? "It depends what you call serious," Wenger said.

"As long as we are five points ahead, you cannot rule us out even with the best desire. It will be a tough Premier League, the consistency in the end will be rewarded. The consistency of course is down to us to keep this attitude until the end of the season.

"It gives us belief. Consistency in results strengthens your belief. You could see that with Everton today, if they lost 5-0 at Old Trafford they would not have played like that.

"They had just won 1-0 at Old Trafford, came here to London, with nothing to lose, you could see what kind of influence confidence has."

The Arsenal manager felt it was a fair result overall.

"It was a good game and Everton played well."

"They started stronger than us for the first 25 minutes. You have to give credit to them, they always looked dangerous. We were disappointed to get pegged back but it's still a point."

The Gunners boss was, however, somewhat frustrated by Everton's physical approach.

"When we got out of the pressure and got into the passing, they stopped us every single time with a foul.

"To just make a foul without being punished by the referee is a huge advantage because after that you play 10 against 10 in one half again."

Irish Independent

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