Belfast Telegraph

Back-to-back wins cheer Wenger

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was pleased to end a challenging week on a high with a 3-1 Barclays Premier League win at Fulham.

A 3-1 opening day loss at home to Aston Villa resulted in Gunners supporters questioning Wenger's status as manager, expressing their unhappiness at the club's lack of progress in the transfer market.

Arsenal responded with a 3-0 victory in the Champions League qualifying first leg at Fenerbahce and then secured a first Premier League win of the season at Craven Cottage.

"For us it's very important that we can get a win here after playing at Fenerbahce," said Wenger, who reported no update in Arsenal's transfer activity.

"We had two good games, at Fenerbahce and today, where we played the way we want to play. We were in control.

"You never know how you respond to a game like that (in Istanbul), because it was intense. Maybe the positive result meant the mental side counter-balanced the fatigue.

"We knew the last 20 minutes would be difficult. When they got to 3-1 I was a bit worried, but they didn't put us under pressure."

Olivier Giroud opened the scoring and Lukas Podolski scored twice for the Gunners, before Darren Bent responded with his first Fulham goal.

Wenger was happy for Podolski, who has been linked with a move away from London as Wenger bids to reshape his squad before the September 2 closure of the transfer window.

The Arsenal boss, who said the Germany forward is an important member of his squad, added: "I'm pleased for him, because he did not always start recently, more for balance of the team than for personal performance.

"He has always a high spirit, he's a very important player in the team and he can score goals. Everybody loves him in the squad, I want to keep him."

Soon after Giroud's opener, Arsenal were indebted to goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny for making a double save which kept them ahead.

Fulham manager Martin Jol said: "They scored two goals out of the blue, because I don't think they had a lot of chances in the first half.

"It (Giroud's goal) was a little bit of luck. At first I thought it was offside. Then we took the initiative and they scored (through Podolski).

"They almost play better nowadays away from home, because they have all the players, in a transitional game, to hurt you.

"You have to take your moments, you have to take your chances, you have to be more greedy. We lacked a cutting edge up front."

Jol was pleased with the performance of Bent off the bench and another debutant, midfielder Scott Parker.

"There were a few positives, but it's very disappointing to lose your first home match," Jol added. "If you look at the positives, Bent scored. Scott Parker did ever so well. He did exactly what I wanted of him."


From Belfast Telegraph