Arsene Wenger delights in 'strong response' after Arsenal end Champions League group stage in style against Galatasaray

The Gunners failed to clinch top spot due to Borussia Dortmund clinching a draw in their game

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The Independent Football

Arsene Wenger was delighted with his Arsenal players as they responded to Saturday’s defeat at Stoke City – and all the unpleasant fall-out that followed – with a comprehensive 4-1 defeat of Galatasaray.

Victory was not enough to win Group D for Arsenal, but Wenger hailed the “strong response” from his players in an atmospheric Turk Telekom Arena on Tuesday night. With no more Champions League football until February, they can focus on improving their league position of sixth.

“We gave a strong response,” said Wenger in his post-match press conference. “We were dangerous every time we won the ball back, good penetration, goals and until half time we were very strong.”

Arsenal host Newcastle on Saturday and play Liverpool, West Ham and Southampton over Christmas, giving a good opportunity for Arsenal to make some ground back.

“Let’s wait for the draw and prepare well,” Wenger said. “We can now focus on the Premier League until the end of February, and the FA Cup as well. Hull [in the FA Cup third round] will not be an easy game. In February we will see where we stand.”

Had Arsenal won by six goals, they would have finished top of the group but Wenger had to take Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini off at half-time, which saw the effective end of those hopes. “After we were had to take Ramsey and Flamini off, it was too much for us to hope we could score six,” he said. “We were closer to conceding one or two more in the second half. We were a bit more lightweight in midfield. It was, overall, a strong performance.”

 

The quality of Ramsey's goal was not the only surprise to Wenger, who was taken aback by the ease in which his side won. At one stage it looked like they could get the six-goal or better margin of victory which would topple leaders Borussia Dortmund if - as they did - the Germans drew.

"(I did not think it was possible) at the start of the game, but at half-time yes," Wenger said.

"But after we were had to take Ramsey and Flamini off, it was too much for us to hope that we could score six.

"We were closer to conceding one or two more in the second half and we defended very well.

"We still had our opportunities but some decisions around the box went against us in the second half, but we tried."

Arsenal's second-place finish means the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris St Germain and defending champions Bayern Munich could now await.

Monday's draw will be eagerly awaited by all those connected to Arsenal, who will be looking to progress from the last-16 stage for the first time since 2010.

"Look, let's wait for the draw, prepare well," Wenger said. "We can focus now on the Premiership.

"It was my 180th game in Champions League tonight, we won away from home and now 15 consecutive years in the last 16. That, I believe, is an achievement.

"Let's focus on the Premiership until the end of February and the FA Cup as well.

"We play Hull at home and that will not be an easy game. In February, we will see where we stand."

PA

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