LONDON — Three wins in a week for Arsenal has seen them surge to the top of the Premier League table and reignite their UEFA Champions League campaign.
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All in all, not a bad seven days for Arsene Wenger and his players.
Speaking after their fourth win on the spin, a 2-1 victory over Everton at a rainy Emirates Stadium on Saturday, Wenger was delighted his side stuck to their task and ground out another three points.
“After a massive game like Tuesday night [beating Bayern Munich] it is a good test for your squad and the hunger of your players,” Wenger told ProSoccerTalk. “I think we played with the right focus and right desire. We were a bit unfortunate in the first half. With one minute to go we got caught and it was 2-1. That created a little bit of insecruity in the squad. In the second half we continued to dominate but we couldn’t get that third goal. Then we were a bit exposed on conter attakcs once or twice. [Romelu] Lukaku had the header onto the bar and Petr Cech made a great save with very little time to go and they got us three massive points.”
Wenger hailed the past seven days as “perfect” as the Gunners have used their squad wisely to put themselves top of the table 10 games into the PL season.
“It is a perfect week. It is not easy to have that,” Wenger said. “The only negative is that we lost some players through injury during the week and we had to rest some players on Tuesday at Sheffield Wednesday [in the League Cup] because some players it would be one game too many for them.”
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Olivier Giroud was preferred in attack to the in-form Theo Walcott, and the French international headed past Tim Howard for the first goal and hit the crossbar in the second half as he put in a tireless display and led the line impressively.
“I have confidence in him,” Wenger told ProSoccerTalk when asked about Giroud. “Recently he made a difference coming on, today he made it by starting. I have interesting options I just have to be wise enough to use him at the right moment.”
Whether it is Walcott or Giroud up top, Alexis Sanchez or Mesut Ozil (someone Wenger described as “top class” and said “if you love football you love to watch Ozil”), in the attacking midfield positions, Wenger believes the biggest strength of this Arsenal team right now is their ability to have players contributing from all over the pitch and not just relying on one individual.
“What makes us efficient is to play like a real team. When you watch us play I think you see a team that plays football, not one player that makes the difference,” Wenger said. “Our results at the moment are more from the consequence of team effort rather than individuals.”
After a “perfect” yet tough week, Wenger’s side dug deep on Saturday to grab the win as their fans chanted “we are top of the league, we are top of the league!” towards the end of the game. The Gunners are at the summit right now, as they are one point ahead of Manchester City who face Manchester United in the derby on Sunday (Watch live, 10:05 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).
City will overtake Arsenal if they win at United on Sunday, but Wenger believes his side are making a statement by clawing back ground and being top of the tree 10 weeks into the season.
“It is 24 hours but after the first game against West Ham nobody [a defeat at home] would have predicted that, so that shows we rely on our attitude, our togetherness and our desire to do well. After 10 games we are there,” Wenger said. “That shows we have made some ground up and let’s keep our togetherness and fight for games in the future. That is all we can do. It is very early in the season but we are happy to be where we are. I thought after 10 games, no, honestly [no way to be top]. I thought it would take much longer because Man City started with five wins so it was difficult to envisage we would come back. We have no choice, last season after 10 games there was a big difference between us and the team at the top. Today, no. So let’s continue to work and improve. Let’s not focus on the position but try to become a better team.”