Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal deserved the three points that Alexis Sanchez secured at the death after the Chilean forward struck just a minute before injury-time to secure a 1-0 victory over Southampton.
The home crowd at the Emirates were moments away from venting their anger at another performance where the Gunners had faltered in front of goal, with Wenger, Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck appearing to take the brunt of the frustration being hurled form the stands.
However, the Welshman took the ball to the byline on the right, before cutting it back to the centre of the six-yard box where Sanchez was on hand to bury it home and send the north London faithful home in a positive mood. Wenger claimed that it was no less than his team deserved, despite a slow start which saw Saints start the game on the front foot.
“I think we deserved that,” Wenger said after the match. “We gave very few chances away, we had more chances than Southampton and we kept a clean sheet.
“Yes, we were a bit slow to get going at the start of the game because we had given a lot against Dortmund and [West Brom] on Saturday and today was a third game in seven days and you could see that we had to dig deep.
Arsenal 1 Southampton 0 player ratings
Arsenal 1 Southampton 0 player ratings
1/1 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 6
Lively start to the game saw him floating behind Welbeck before taking station on the left. Had a good effort saved by Forster in the first-half, and faded after the break perhaps feeling the effects of the knee injury that had him doubtful for the game. Replaced by Olivier Giroud with 25 minutes left.
“We played against a good team who are very organised, who play very quick on the counter attack and it was very important not to be exposed on the counter attack to keep a clean sheet, be patient and wait for our chances. You could see in the last 20 minutes that they started to suffer a little bit physically and that we created openings.”
The introduction of Olivier Giroud, seconds after his name rung around the stadium as the fans called for Wenger to bring him on, appeared to change the game, as the striker immediately saw a powerful shot from the left saved by Fraser Forster before teeing up Welbeck for a chance that again was brilliantly saved one-handed by the England stopper.
“He [Giroud] worked very hard and we have a very good preparation system and at the time when the players come back we get them to the point where they are basically ready,” Wenger said when asked if Giroud had changed the momentum of the match.
“But having said that, he played 70 minutes on Saturday and only 25 today at a moment when Southampton were a bit jaded. His physical presence made a difference.”
There was also special praise for match-winner Sanchez, who scored his 14th goal of the season in all competitions, and lifted the Gunners up to sixth – just three points behind third-placed Saints.
“He [Sanchez] was one of the players who had to dig deep today but he still had such a desire to fight and he always finds something special to get a goal,” raved Wenger. “It’s difficult to find examples of people who have settled so quickly.”
Wenger was then asked if he could name a player who had settled quicker than the Chile international, though for once the 65-year-old Frenchman appeared lost for words.
“My memory is not perfect but, when you think quickly, no.
“He arrived in July and when you look at the number of goals and the impact he has in the team it’s fabulous.”
The victory represented a third clean sheet in a row for Wenger’s side who are clearly benefiting from the return of fit-again Laurent Koscielny. The centre-back was instrumental in keeping Graziano Pelle and Shane Long at bay, and Wenger stressed how important he is to their season ambitions, although he refused to get carried away too soon.
“I’m a bit cautious you know. We had the right attitude, we have good solidarity in the team, a good focus and it’s a good base,” he added. “I think Koscielny today was absolutely outstanding and contributed to stabilise our defence. We missed him for nearly two months.”Reuse content