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Wenger is glad to silence critics after Euro woe

Arsenal 2 - Everton 0

By Jim van Wijk

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger felt his side answered the critics by getting back to basics after their midweek European nightmare to grind out a 2-0 victory over Everton and move back to third in the Premier League.

Wenger had slammed Arsenal's "suicidal defending" which cost them in a 3-1 home defeat by Monaco in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash last Wednesday.

There was, though, no repeat against the Toffees at the Emirates Stadium as Olivier Giroud, who missed several chances in midweek, netted a fine volley on 39 minutes, with a late deflected effort from substitute Tomas Rosicky securing all three points.

"It was vital for us, for the rest of the season, to win the game," said Wenger, whose side are now just four points behind Manchester City and one ahead of Manchester United.

"What was very important was that we had a mentally united response and we showed that. We are proud of the response.

"Our defensive concentration was at a much higher level than on Wednesday night.

"We know that we can do better with the ball, but overall what was important for us was to respond with a win.

"We got it and not everybody can produce that after such a disappointment."

Wenger felt his side had answered questions over a perceived lack of leadership.

"I can understand that we got this kind of criticism after the game because it looked like that, but it's not permanent," he said.

"It can sometimes be occasional that not everybody is focused on the right things in the game.

"I believe that we wanted to make the difference too much in the first game (against Monaco)and forgot our basics to defend as a unit.

"Here we came back to our basics and that was very important to find our confidence back."

Wenger had given Gabriel Paulista his first Premier League start, with centre-back Per Mertesacker left on the bench along with England duo Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott.

The Gunners' boss had no hesitation in giving Giroud another chance in attack.

"When a guy misses one game, straight away to take him out (would be harsh) and I thought his presence would be important against Everton," said Wenger, who confirmed midfielder Francis Coquelin had suffered a broken nose following an accidental clash of heads with Giroud.

"Olivier's great quality is when his back's to the wall - he has the personality and the character to respond. Because I know him better now, that's one of the reasons why I kept him in the team.

"He acknowledged that he missed his game and he will respond because he has the strength to do it."

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