Wenger praises Arsenal players following late point at Everton

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will face Besiktas next week to conclude the UEFA Champions League playoff round.

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Arsene Wenger paid tribute to his Arsenal side for battling back to claim a point following their 2-2 draw with Everton.

The Gunners slipped 2-0 behind at Goodison Park but the halftime introduction of Olivier Giroud helped to change the game. Ramsey brought Arsenal back to 2-1 with seven minutes to go and Giroud headed in a last-minute equalizer to stun Everton and leave Wenger satisfied with his day’s work. 

"I think it’s a strong point because overall it was a game of quality against a good team," Wenger told Sky Sports. "The game was played with a high pace and then after going 2-0 down just before halftime we had to expose ourselves to counter-attacks, so to come back to 2-2 I think is a good point."

There was some controversy about Everton’s second goal as Romelu Lukaku shrugged off Per Mertesacker before running towards goal and playing in Steven Naismith, with replays showing offside should have been given.

Wenger added: "I think it was a foul on Mertesacker at the start, although maybe he shouldn’t have dived in. Maybe it was offside afterwards as well, but those are the kinds of decisions that can go against you. What is most important is that we showed the spirit to fight and come back."

Wenger was also pleased with the contribution of Giroud after bringing the Frenchman on to replace Alexis Sanchez. He added: "I thought we would dominate the game and we needed more of a physical presence through the middle. I think he had a very good second half. It’s great for our belief to know that away from home and 2-0 down we have players like that to turn the game."

Unfortunately for Wenger, Giroud suffered an ankle injury in the final minutes and could now miss the second leg of Arsenal’s Champions League play-off against Besiktas.

"It is a big game and I hope we have not lost him," said Wenger of Giroud, who left Goodison Park with a protective boot on his left foot. "In the final minute he stretched his ankle. At the moment it doesn’t look too good. "

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Sanchez is likely to lead the line against the Turks, who gained a 0-0 draw against the Gunners in Istanbul on Wednesday. Wenger said he had no option but to withdraw the £35million signing at halftime on Saturday.

"At the moment he is not completely ready physically," Wenger said. "He knows he is not at his best physically but when he is his confidence will come back."