News ID: 172874
Published: 0728 GMT November 28, 2016

Wenger: Arsenal had to steady its nerves

Wenger: Arsenal had to steady its nerves
Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger watches from the touchline during the match against Bournemouth in London on November 27, 2016.
BEN STANSALL/AFP

Arsene Wenger admitted Arsenal had to conquer its nerves before securing the 3-1 win that thrust its back in the Premier League title race.

Wenger's side had fallen six points behind leader Chelsea after drawing three of its last four league games and it was in danger of another damaging setback at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, AFP reported.

Having led through Alexis Sanchez's early goal, the Gunners were pegged back by Callum Wilson's controversial penalty midway through the first half.

With the Arsenal faithful getting restless, Wenger revealed he had tried to calm his players down at halftime as they wrestled with the anxieties caused by three successive draws.

They responded to Wenger's pep talk by scoring twice after halftime through Theo Walcott and Sanchez to move within three points of Chelsea.

"We started well but when they equalized we became nervous," Wenger said.

"That is where the three draws were on our mind. It was down to us to calm down at halftime and just focus on the game."

Wenger was frustrated by referee Mike Jones' decision to award Bournemouth's penalty for an innocuous collision between Wilson and Nacho Monreal and he was fearing the worst at that point.

"My view is we should have had a penalty on Sanchez and Bournemouth's was a very soft one," he said.

"It was shoulder to shoulder. I was really amazed he gave it.

"We became nervous and they became more dynamic. For me it's not exactly the side I wanted to play. They are a tricky side and keep the ball well."

Driven on by the irrepressible Sanchez, Arsenal eventually find its rhythm in the second half and Wenger was quick to pay tribute to the Chile forward, who has scored 10 goals this season.

"Sanchez, even though he looks dead he is still alive. He finds the resources to win the ball and do something special," Wenger said.

"He has the guts. He has that conditioning which allows him to always find an extra gear to be dangerous."

 

Essential

 

Wenger said he knows keeping Sanchez is essential if Arsenal is to challenge for major silverware, even if performances like this mean he could demand a bigger salary.

Asked if Arsenal was any closer to tying up a contract extension with Sanchez, Wenger added, "It is important, how important I don't know.

"We won't do that tonight. We have some time.

"You (the media) like us to spend money, so you should be happy!"

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe was frustrated that his team left empty-handed despite an enterprising display and he took a shot at Jones for failing to award his team a second penalty for a handball by Monreal.

"We were well in that game, we created a number of chances. The 3-1 scoreline is difficult to take," he said.

"It's difficult here, especially when you are Bournemouth. A couple of things have gone against us.

"I'm not a fan of really soft penalties, but a bit of consistency seems to have gone out of the game.

"But we were without a number of players today and there wasn't much between the teams.

"The future of the team is good. I back us to be okay this season."

   
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Resource: AFP
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