Belfast Telegraph

Wenger: We'll respond on the pitch

Manager Arsene Wenger has challenged Arsenal to continue to let their football deliver all the right answers in the quest to stay top of the Barclays Premier League.

The Gunners produced the perfect response to the midweek Capital One Cup exit at home to Chelsea with a cohesive display to defeat Liverpool 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium and move five points clear.

Wenger's men, who had been well beaten by Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League a fortnight ago, weathered some early pressure from the Reds before Santi Cazorla fired them in front on 19 minutes with a well-taken finish after his header hit the post.

Aaron Ramsey cracked home a sublime second goal, his 10th of the season, on the hour to secure an eighth Premier League win for the Gunners, who head to Germany for a crucial European tie next week before travelling to Manchester United on Sunday.

"I felt conclusions were a bit too quick this week, it was only one game," said Wenger.

"We live in a world where you are questioned. The only response we can give is on the football pitch. I said that many times and that is part of our job.

"I am pleased we have won a big game at home, I think it was important for the future."

Arsenal managed to shackle the threat of in-form Reds strikeforce Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, who were never really allowed to gain any ground in the final third.

There were, though, some moments of concern for the Gunners, notably when Jordan Henderson waltzed through their half and into the penalty area before horribly scuffing his shot.

Liverpool also had a goal ruled out, which would have made it 1-1, after taking a free-kick too quickly for the liking of referee Martin Atkinson, while Suarez - the subject of two summer transfer bids from Arsenal - also brushed the outside of the post and then dragged a late chance wide.

However, Wenger's men also stretched Liverpool's three-man defensive line, with Ramsey denied by goalkeeper Simon Mignolet and Olivier Giroud chipping just wide in the second half.

"You could see that the (confidence) level is high," said Wenger, who will check on the fitness of Jack Wilshere after the England midfielder missed out against Liverpool because of an inflamed ankle.

"We had a great defensive solidarity, we were always quick and sharp going forward, and that is the kind of game we want to play.

"This win will increase the level of confidence in our group and it will maybe convince some sceptical people that we have a chance at challenging for the title."

Wenger knows Arsenal cannot afford to rest on their laurels if they are to meet the challenges of November head on.

"We go from game to game, we have Dortmund on Wednesday, it is another big game," the Gunners boss said.

"We are in a position where we want absolutely a result and the win over Liverpool puts us mentally in a better condition."

Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny feels the players showed they have the needed mentality to stay the course this season.

"We knew it was a very important game for us, we knew that winning this game would mean a lot and create a gap in the table at the top," the Poland goalkeeper said.

"If you look the consistency of our performances, recently you can see that we want to challenge for the title this year.

"You can see with the quality of our performance that we are up for it."

Full-back Kieran Gibbs is also doubtful for Tuesday night's Champions League match against Dortmund after he limped off with 10 minutes left because of a calf problem.

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