Arsene Wenger hailed his side’s grit and determination after they ground out a 1-0 win at Sunderland despite playing the last 25 minutes with only 10 men.
The Gunners could and should have been further in the lead before Carl Jenkinson’s second yellow card of the game, but with backs to the wall the boss paid particular tribute to auxiliary centre-back partnership Bacacy Sagna and Per Mertesacker and keeper Wojciech Szczesny.
“You saw that the team is up for a fight,” Wenger told press after the game. “Without that, we wouldn’t have got the three points today. Szczesny was excellent today,” he continued.
“I believe the defence was excellent, when you think that Sagna was told 15 minutes before the start that he would play centre back.
“I believe he dealt with what he faced in an excellent way. He and Mertesacker were excellent.”
In positive news, despite the excellence on show from the patched-up defence, Wenger confirmed that Laurent Koscielny’s fitness problem would only sideline him a matter of days.
“It’s a calf problem. We think it’s a question of days [until he returns] because he had a positive scan.
“He [came off for France] at half time [on Wednesday] and we decided to give him a trial in the warm up. He was not good enough. I don’t think it’s long-term.”
Reflecting on the somewhat erratic scoring patterns of late, Wenger finished by admitting that his team, particularly in attack, are still a work in progress.
“Today we lacked efficiency in our finishing and we didn’t finish what we created. We create and that’s positive. Sometimes it’s like that.
“If you look at our games, we score five, seven, and suddenly sometimes we don’t score. The team is still learning and developing and needs to be a bit more efficient.”
Not a single mention of ‘mental strength’….
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