Belfast Telegraph

Wenger praises Arsenal balance in Everton win

Everton 0 - Arsenal 2

By Carl Markham

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes greater selection options have allowed him to get a better balance in his side.

Wenger had some doubts about the ability of striker Danny Welbeck to manage back-to-back starts, having previously spent so long out injured, but the England international justified his inclusion with the opening goal in a 2-0 win at Everton.

Teenager Alex Iwobi also rewarded Wenger for giving him his first Premier League start with a maiden goal, while January signing Mohamed Elneny showed he has adapted to English football with a composed performance in midfield.

The win ensured a disappointing week of FA Cup and Champions League exits ended on a high and dampened down some of the criticism being aimed at Wenger and his players.

"If you lose it is disastrous but we were not as bad as that," said the Gunners boss, whose side remain 11 points behind leaders Leicester with a match in hand.

"We were backs-to-the-wall and responded well. I am pleased mentally we responded under pressure. We have a game based on movement, mobility, technical level and attacking football and we have to get the balance right.

"Sometimes it is not right. Let us not forget some players were out for the whole season basically.

"Welbeck was just coming back, Iwobi is just coming into the side and Elneny is giving us good balance, and we just bought him in January."

For Everton after knocking Chelsea out of the FA Cup to book a Wembley semi-final, they produced an insipid performance noticeably lacking bite in midfield.

With defensive linchpin Gareth Barry suspended, the Toffees were totally dominated in midfield as Arsenal had free run of Goodison Park. That allowed them to score a well-worked first goal just seven minutes in when a 12-pass move culminated with Alexis Sanchez threading the ball through for Welbeck to round goalkeeper Joel Robles.

Everton boss Roberto Martinez has overseen just seven home league wins in the last 12 months and pressure is increasing on the Spaniard despite reaching two semi-finals this season.

"We know the quality we have, we showed it seven days ago," he said. "It would be very easy for us to look at the absence of Gareth Barry - it was clear we look to the experience of him every time we have a difficult moment.

"We didn't have him there and it was too easy. It is a shame now because 80% of the squad is going to go away (on international duty)."

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