Belfast Telegraph

Arsene Wenger backs key duo to fuel Arsenal's Euro bid

QPR 1 Arsenal 2

By Staff Reporter

Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud have the "mental strength" to spearhead Arsenal's charge for Champions League qualification, according to Arsene Wenger.

Chile striker Sanchez claimed his first goal in eight games while Giroud further erased memories of his Monaco nightmare as Arsenal eased past QPR 2-1 at Loftus Road.

Wenger believes heavy criticism of Giroud's profligate showing in the 3-1 Champions League home defeat to Monaco "was a bit harsh".

He hailed Sanchez as a striker who "never gives up" and backed Giroud to keep shrugging off whatever setbacks come his way.

"It's good because when you don't score for seven or eight games it is on your mind even if you say it's not," said Wenger of Sanchez's neat finish.

"But he took his chance well and he's tricky and has a short back-lift and scored a good goal. He never gives up and that's the strength of a good striker as well.

"Olivier has that mental strength as well, he's strong mentally too.

"He can take criticism and respond, and he's shown that."

Arsenal maintained third spot last night, but were unable to steal a march with the rest of the top four also victorious.

Wenger admitted Arsenal were "nervous" in the first-half, and was frustrated to turn around with the game goalless.

Charlie Austin fired a late goal for the hosts, but the Gunners were able to hold out for their 10th victory in 12 games.

"It's hot up there, yes, because everybody won," said Wenger.

"We can only focus on our performances and keep going.

"We have 10 games to go, so we can only keep going. I haven't studied other teams' games, but until mid-April there are five or so teams fighting not to go down and the same to get into Europe.

"Whether the other teams have easier games I don't know.

"We were nervous in the first-half I felt, and they competed physically."

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