Arsene Wenger hits back at Troy Deeney after Watford captain claims Arsenal 'lack cojones'
Arsene Wenger has hit back at Troy Deeney after the Watford captain claimed Arsenal’s players lack “cojones”.
Watford came from behind to beat the north Londoners 2-1 last weekend, with Deeney netting a contentious penalty not long after coming on as a substitute.
The defeat was Arsenal’s third of the season and Deeney suggested after the game that Wenger’s lack the necessary mettle to grind out results such as that one.
“Whenever I play Arsenal, I'll go up and think, 'Let me whack the first one and see who wants it,'" he said.
"I came on today [Saturday] and jumped with [Per] Mertesacker. I didn't even have to jump, actually - I nodded it down. The crowd gets up - 'Yeah, we've got somebody who can win it' - and they all just backed off,” he said after the game.
"For me as a player I just think, 'Happy days'. That's my strength. I know I'm not technically gifted like they are, not as quick, but if you want to fight with me, I'm gonna beat you all day.”
But Wenger begged to differ, telling journalists at a press conference on Wednesday that Deeney’s comments “aren’t justified”.
“You can’t question our character,” the Frenchman said. “People try and put us down, they always have. Those comments aren’t justified.”
As much as he disagreed with the sentiment, Wenger also said Deeney was entitled to voice his opinion.
“Everyone is entitled to talk,” he added.
“We don’t listen to what people say - we try to analyse or own game.
“I love my players and I trust their strength of character to respond quickly. I know who my players really are.
“In the [previous] seven games we had six wins and one draw. Comments are part of the modern game.”
Arsenal travel to Serbia on Thursday for a Europa League clash against Red Star Belgrade.