Belfast Telegraph

Arsene Wenger savours 'convincing' win after difficult week

Arsene Wenger was impressed by the way Arsenal brought a tough week to a convincing end at Hull.

Having required a last-gasp penalty to fortuitously secure victory against Southampton last weekend, the north Londoners rode their luck as they started their Champions League campaign with a draw at Paris St Germain.

Alexis Sanchez scored Tuesday's late leveller and again proved integral as Hull were comprehensively overcome 4-1 at the KCOM Stadium, netting a brace that was complemented by a Theo Walcott effort and Granit Xhaka's stunning stoppage-time strike.

It could have been a hat-trick had the Chilean not seen his penalty saved late in the first half, with the decision to send off Jake Livermore for deliberate handball playing a key part in City's inability to add to Robert Snodgrass' spot-kick which came after Petr Cech brought down Dieumerci Mbokani.

"I think overall we had a convincing performance in two different situations," Arsenal boss Wenger said.

"Eleven against 11, I thought we played well. When you play 11 against 10, it is of course not the same mentally and psychologically.

"But we remained serious and in the end we won the game in a convincing way, I would say, overall.

"But we had a very difficult game against Southampton last week, went away to Paris St Germain. We go away again so you are happy with the three points."

Wenger is pleased with Arsenal's upward trajectory after a tough start to the campaign and hopes "we can continue our improvement".

His players' gradual return to fitness and form has helped no end, with the oft-derided Walcott, star turn Sanchez and Alex Iwobi performing well in East Yorkshire.

The latter was particularly impressive, with his exquisite flick putting Walcott through to put the Gunners two goals ahead, and he was robbed of the opener by Sanchez's late touch.

"Well, look, I started him last year because I've seen that there's something in him that is quality of vision, quality of give and go, his movement," Wenger said of Iwobi.

"He can break the lines with a pass and individually as well, so there's a lot in the locker.

"Overall, he's only 20 years old so you could see that he has gained in confidence now.

"He can take people on much more and he has gained power as well. It's interesting what he has done."

The scoreline was perhaps harsh on the 10 men of Hull, who rallied manfully to bring the score back to 2-1 as the match entered the final 10 minutes.

Hull fans were audibly upset with some of referee Roger East's decisions and interim manager Mike Phelan felt the red card against Livermore was harsh.

"My only question is was it a deliberate handball, which made it a sending-off," he said.

"We all have hindsight afterwards when we see everything replayed and what have you, but I don't think it was hand to ball, I thought it was more ball to the arm.

"I think Jake was probably on the half turn at the same time, so the referee deemed it deliberate handball, which is a red card.

"Then again, we can look at the other offence and it's the opposite of that. Penalty decision, keeper brings a player down - yellow card.

"We know the rules, we can't object against them, it was just the definition of whether that was a deliberate handball or not. I felt as though it wasn't a deliberate handball."

Phelan joked it was hard enough playing against 11 Arsenal players and preparing for that task is the reason he held off on contract talks.

The interim manager has now been offered a deal to become Steve Bruce's full-time successor and will speak with his family about the deal on Sunday before meeting vice-chairman Ehab Allam on Monday.

Phelan said with a laugh: "My future is a lot brighter, I think - 48 hours ago I was offered some terms.

"Due to this game being so quickly upon us, I decided just to leave that alone and we'll have a little read of it and see where we are going with it and discuss it with the family, hopefully take this club on."


From Belfast Telegraph