Bully boy opponents are no longer a problem for Arsenal, insists manager Arsene Wenger

Arsenal manager says his team have grown up and now combine brains and brawn

Arséne Wenger promised that his Arsenal side would not be out-muscled as they push for Champions League qualification. Wenger was unhappy about Everton's approach on Tuesday night but insisted his team are no longer intimidated as they have been in the past, as they prepare for their final five Premier League games of the season.

This Arsenal side is stronger and more experienced than four or five years ago, and Wenger said they were not as vulnerable to roughing up as his last team.

"We were [vulnerable] for a while because we were very, very young," Wenger admitted. "For a while, when we built the stadium here, we were much younger. And, of course, vulnerable. With [Cesc] Fabregas, at 17 years of age, we were a bit more vulnerable at Stoke than we are today. That's natural."

Wenger believes that players can learn from the physical nature of the English game and improve as a result. "I don't think it holds players back," he said. "In fact, the opposite, the foreign players who come to England improve and you get that aspect of the game as well. I've seen so many French players complain about the physicality when they arrived in England. I tell them it will take some time but the intensity of the game will make them better players.

"When you look at some players, you cannot say the physicality of the game stops them from displaying their talent," he added. "When I brought [Robert] Pires here he was not an especially physical player but no one could stop him from playing his game. [Marc] Overmars, [Dennis] Bergkamp, nobody could stop them."

Despite his obvious frustration on occasions, Wenger made clear that physicality is one of the things he likes most about English football. "It is a strength of the English game," he said. "The physicality of the English game is one of the attractions of it, as long as the intention is fair from the player who goes into the challenge. That is the most important.

"Sometimes I watch foreign games and after 20 minutes you are bored because every time somebody goes down it is a foul, and you say 'Come on'. That is not football as well. We do not want to lose the strengths and what makes English football attractive, but the intention of the players has to be fair."

The part that Wenger does not like is dangerous tackling, which has hurt his players in the past. "What I regret is when it goes overboard and we lost some players like Eduardo and [Abou] Diaby who paid a high price for that," he said. "It is a fine line, that's why I say it is the intention that counts. If you go a little bit over the ball, how can you tell if the guy did it on purpose or not? It's very difficult.

"It was worse 15 years ago than it is now. Fifteen years ago no one would have spoken about the Andy Carroll challenge [on David de Gea on Wednesday]. Now everything is analysed on TV. Some players complained and then, after they moved away, they missed the English game."

Wojciech Szczesny is set to continue in goal for Arsenal against Fulham on Saturday, with Lukasz Fabianski missing with a cracked rib. "Fabianski is out," Wenger revealed. "He has a crack in his rib that has not moved. That means we have to treat it clinically."

Szczesny, who turned 23 on Thursday - the same day that his Polish team-mate and rival for the goalkeeper's shirt turned 28, had little to do against Everton, but was alert enough when called up.

Wenger was happy with the goalkeeper's response to being dropped – which had brought stinging public criticism from the player's father.

"He had a good performance, I was pleased with his focus," Wenger said.

"He dealt well with the situation that he faced.

"In our job, there is only one way to respond, to practise harder and stronger and show that you are ready for a fight, that is what he did."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Life and Style
Dale Bolinger arranged to meet the girl via a fetish website
life
Property
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Life and Style
tech
News
The Commonwealth flag flies outside Westminster Abbey in central London
news
Arts and Entertainment
Struggling actors who scrape a living working in repertory theatres should get paid a 'living wage', Sir Ian McKellen has claimed
theatre
News
Skye McCole Bartusiak's mother said she didn't use drink or drugs
peopleActress was known for role in Mel Gibson film The Patriot
Arts and Entertainment
tvWebsite will allow you to watch all 522 shows on-demand
Arts and Entertainment
filmThe Rock to play DC character in superhero film
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor