Wenger hails character ahead of Newcastle showdown


Arsene Wenger praised his side’s character as they came from behind at Upton Park to end a four game winless streak.

Having drawn with Everton and Chelsea and with defeats dished out by Napoli and Manchester City questions about the Gunners title-credentials were the order of the day when Carlton Cole put West Ham in front early in the second half, but a quickfire brace from Theo Walcott and a low drive by the returning Lukas Podolski turned the game on its head to send Arsenal top of the table again.

Speaking after the game, the boss spoke with pride at the manner in which his squad bounced back: “I am delighted because overall I feel that we controlled the game but we had a difficult period where the game could have changed. That was in the first 10 minutes of the second half where West Ham scored. They had a header on a cross which could have made it 2-0.

“That was certainly the turning point of the game but after that we had plenty of chances in the first half, we couldn’t take our chances but after that we responded very well and won the game in a convincing way.

“That was a kind of game that of course many people would have questioned us had we not won today and even more if we had lost.”

German attacker Lukas Podolski not only scored on his return but also arrowed in the cross which Walcott headed home to edge Arsenal in front. Speaking about the 28-year-old’s impact, Wenger continued: “He has been out for four four months, he has not played one game. I try to get him slowly back to competitiveness and he has shown he can have a huge impact because he can score and make goals – he can give assists.

“On the pitch [in the second half] we had Podolski and Walcott and Giroud and Ozil and Cazorla you know when you lose the ball you can be a bit vulnerable but we had to go for it.”

Arsenal travel to in-form Newcastle in two-days time as they look to end the calendar year as English football’s top dogs. Looking ahead to the challenge posed by Alan Pardew’s team after a tough run, Wenger highlighted the game as another opportunity for his side to prove themselves: “We have another good game now on Sunday at Newcastle who are in full confidence as well so that will be another test.

“The team wants to do well and the character is great. The concentration is top. I believe we had a difficult period just now but honestly that was mainly down to the schedule we had. I think that the schedule was absolutely horrendous but we can show that in the future.”

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