Belfast Telegraph

Wenger: Players were nervous

Arsene Wenger said his side had to shrug off an attack of nerves before goals from Theo Walcott and Andrey Arshavin saw them past battling Blackburn at Ewood Park.

Wenger's dislike of the home side's qualities are well known and he insisted his side had approached the game with concerns after a bruising battle in the equivalent fixture last season.

Wenger said: "We had a good start but in my opinion we were too nervous dealing with the game of Blackburn. Who would not be unsettled by the kind of game Blackburn gave us today? Last year we had bad memories here and because we knew they would play the kind of game we don't like we had not enough confidence to deal with that."

He added: "In the second half I felt we were calmer. We put the ball well on the ground and controlled it better and it was just a question of time. We had the right resilience and commitment."

And Wenger is adamant the way his side shrugged off those nerves to take the points sent a strong signal that they will not be found wanting in the title chase this season.

"If you have ambition in this league you have got to win at Blackburn," added Wenger. "If you fail to win at Blackburn - if you go to clubs like that and you don't win - your ambition will not be respected by the other teams so it was an important test for us."

One negative aspect of the afternoon for Wenger was the late ankle injury suffered by Robin van Persie, which Wenger believes will keep the Dutchman out for at least 10 days.

Rovers boss Sam Allardyce bemoaned his side's failure to make the most of their chances which cost them after Mame Diouf's goal had brought them back into the match.

"I'm disappointed we didn't get something out of the game and from my point of view the first half was our opportunity to get our noses in front," said Allardyce.

"Because we didn't take those opportunities we paid the price for that. At some stage Arsenal were going to take control of the game. You switch off for a split second and they are very, very good at punishing you."


From Belfast Telegraph