Arsene Wenger on going top, Giroud, Ozil and importance of set piece goals
Arsène Wenger spoke to the media after Arsenal’ beat Everton 2-1 win at the Emirates Stadium last night.
The victory took the Gunners to the top of the Premier League table.
Manchester City can regain top spot today if they avoid defeat in the Manchester derby.
Arsene Wenger recognised that the Champions League win over Bayern Munich on Tuesday night had taken its toil on his players.
“We had a massive game on Tuesday night and after that it is a good test for your squad and the hand off to your players, Wenger said. I think we played with the right focus and desire. We were a bit unfortunate in the first half we got caught with one minute to go so it was 2-1 and created a bit of insecurity in the squad. In the second half we continued to dominate but could not get the third goal and then we were a bit exposed on the counter-attack once or twice. Romelu Lukaku had the header on the bar and Petr Cech made a great save with very little time to go and that got us three massive points.”
Olivier Giroud started the match in place of Theo Walcott. Giroud opened the scoring against Bayern on Tuesday and did so again yesterday. It was the fifth successive match that Giroud had scored against Everton in all competitions. On his decision to start Giroud yesterday, Wenger said.
“I have confidence (in Giroud). He recently made the difference coming on and today he made the difference by starting. I have interesting options, I just have to be wise enough to use them at the right moment.
“We have to put our energy all together to do well for the team and the club so I do not make too much of an individual case for the players. Theo Walcott can also start which makes it easier. Let’s not forget they can play together.”
Asked about being top of the table and whether Arsenal can maintain a title challenge, Wenger said.
“It is 24 hours, but we still don’t know. After the first game against West Ham United nobody would have predicted that. That shows that we rely on our attitude, our togetherness and our desire to do well. After 10 games we are there, that shows we have made some ground up. Let’s keep our togetherness and fight for the future games, that is all we can do. It is very early in the season but we are happy to be where we are.
“I believe that we will keep that solidarity, that desire to do well and I think we are well focused to do well and together we have improved on that front. We know that when we have the ball we can create goal chances. We went to Watford and won 3-0 and beat Bayern Munich 2-0, and beat Everton in one week. It has been a fantastic week. It is not easy.
“I thought after 10 games, no. Honestly. I thought it would take much longer because Manchester City started with five wins so it was difficult to envisage that we would come back but we had no choice. Last season after 10 games there was a big difference between the top teams and us, today no. Let’s continue to work together and continue to improve. There are still many aspects to our game which we can improve and therefore let’s not focus too much on the position and try to be a better team.
“It is a perfect week and it is not easy to have that. The only negative is that we lost some players through in jury during the week, but I will have to rest some players Tuesday night against Sheffield Wednesday (in the Capital One Cup). I think for some players it will be one game too many for them.
“We need to keep the togetherness, the concentration, the humility and try to play better football game by game and try to focus on that in training as well.
Mesut Ozil provided another assist for Giroud’s goal. On his record signing, Wenger said.
“He is a top-class player, honestly. I think rather than talking about him I would rather watch him play again. If you love to watch football, you love to watch Ozil.
“It is a combination of quality of the touch, intelligence and team attitude. He is a real team player.
“I said that yesterday in the press conference. He puts his talent at the service of the team and he wants to help the team with everything he does. That makes him efficient.”
On Koscielny scoring from a set piece, Wenger said.
“We know to fight at the top we need some goals from set-pieces, between eight and twelve if you want to fight at the top. I believe on that front we are a bit short and the fact we could score today will give us belief we can score more.”