Arsene Wenger challenges Arsenal to make recovery from frustrating draw with Everton
Up next for the Gunners is an away trip to Fulham
Wednesday 17 April 2013
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger challenged his side to quickly get over their bruising Barclays Premier League goalless draw with Everton - which saw midfielder Jack Wilshere involved in a half-time bust-up at the Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners missed the chance to put daylight between themselves, Tottenham and Chelsea in the race for Champions League qualification after the Toffees utilised all their physical qualities to keep alive slim hopes of gate-crashing the top four.
As well as several hefty challenges from the visitors - with midfielder Darron Gibson fortunate not to be sent off for twice pole-axing Theo Walcott in the first half - television pictures showed England international Wilshere, just back from a six-week injury lay-off, involved in a bust-up with Everton's Kevin Mirallas as the players walked off at the break, when he reacted angrily after appearing to be squirted with a water bottle - an incident which could yet be reviewed by the Football Association.
Despite the obvious frustrations, Wenger maintains his side still have what it takes to finish the campaign on a positive as they regroup for Saturday's trip to Fulham.
Arsenal's best chances fell to Olivier Giroud, but the France striker failed to test Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard and the hosts had to be content with a point which sees them move two clear of their London rivals below them, but having played more matches.
"We are on a very strong run with a fantastic run so we do not want to complain too much about what didn't go for us," Wenger said.
"Let's look at ourselves, come back in the next game and win it. This still keeps us in a strong position in the race for the top four.
"We had the chances to score, and that's my regret. Maybe we used power instead of technique too much in our finishing.
"My belief was always strong and still is. I am confident we will do it. The best way is to put the same effort into the next game."
Wenger felt there was little in the half-time spat, which was quickly calmed down. The Arsenal manager said: "I don't know about it, but if it was (on television), then very soon everybody will know about it - and I will know about it as well. It was all right in the dressing room."
The Gunners boss, though, felt referee Neil Swarbrick could have taken a stronger line.
Wenger said: "I felt that in the first half the referee didn't deal at all well with the intimidating physical challenges, but that we responded well to the physicality.
"It was detrimental to the fluency of our game, but we kept going, had good concentration."
Wenger added: "But that is part of the game. We had to deal with that.
"You have to respect the effort Everton put in. They decided to make it very physical for us to disturb our game and sometimes went a little bit over the edge, but the referee had to make the right decision.
"I don't blame Everton for that. 'Protecting' is a big word, but they (referees) have to make the right decisions."
Everton boss David Moyes, however, defended his side's approach.
He said: "Do you mean when we were a little bit rough with the tackling? Up north we do that quite often, that's actually allowed in football.
"We weren't going to come here and let Arsenal stroke the ball around and make 600 tackles."
Moyes added: "I am pleased with the performance, and with the result. You are never disappointed taking a point at the Emirates, you can't be with the quality they have here.
"We went to try and win it. We knew if we got three points here we would have a real chance (of the top four), but a point keeps us ticking along."
Everton remain in sixth place, a point behind Tottenham, but having played a game more.
Moyes accepts it will be an uphill battle to qualify for the Champions League."I think that result suits Spurs more than anybody... but I don't think we are out of place where we are.
"It is hard for us compared to clubs like Arsenal, but we go out on the pitch and do everything we can to beat them, make sure they don't beat us.
"I would take it (the Europa League), but I am going to try and get the Champions League - if we are still getting that mention in mid-April, then it is not bad for Everton."
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