Gunners response pleases Wenger

Published Nov. 28, 2010 9:52 a.m. ET

Arsene Wenger praised Arsenal's mentality as they held off Aston Villa's second-half comeback to win 4-2 at Villa Park on Saturday.

The Gunners had been beaten 3-2 by Tottenham last weekend after leading 2-0 and then went down to Braga in the Champions League in midweek.

There were danger signals at Villa Park after Andrey Arshavin and Samir Nasri had given them a 2-0 half-time advantage.

Villa responded in positive style in the second 45 minutes and twice cut the deficit to a single goal but the visitors kept their nerve and registered a fifth away Premier League victory.

Wenger said: "At 2-0, at half-time, you could feel amongst the players that what happened last week (against Tottenham) had an impact in their head.

"When Villa came back to 2-1, it was an interesting test for my team.

"We could have crumbled or we could score again - and we did the latter. We got a good mental response.


"This team is very interesting because they are on the same wavelength in the way they want to play.

"But they also fight for each other. I thought we had played well against Tottenham, had a lot of possession against Braga and we responded well again today.

"You do not always lose when you dominate games and we played well.

"Villa had a good comeback in the second half but we managed to find the response to come out on top."

Ciaran Clark pulled it back to 2-1 seven minutes after the break before Marouane Chamakh restored the cushion. Clark's second again tested Arsenal's resolve before Jack Wilshere's late header sealed what looked a comfortable win on paper.

Wenger insists he was always confident of maintaining Arsenal's 12 year unbeaten run at Villa Park despite the absence of injured skipper Cesc Fabregas.

He said: "Cesc is a special talent and ideally we would have wanted him to be out there but I was confident before the game.

"No matter who plays, I feel we can produce good team play."

Villa manager Gerard Houllier admitted his side were always playing catch up after a poor first half performance.

He said: "We were poor in the first half. Whether it was because we showed them too much respect, or lacked experience, I don't know.

"We never got started. We were a different team in the second half, showed more energy and took more risks.

"It's just a shame that when we got to 2-1 that we couldn't keep the score like that for 10 minutes because, after what happened to Arsenal last week, they would have been shaky.

"Their third goal was the pivotal moment of the game but overall we were beaten by a better team than ourselves, simple as that.

"The best thing to do as a team is to learn from that and the good thing is we did get a positive reaction in the second half."

Villa defender James Collins suffered a reaction to the calf injury which had sidelined him for the previous 10 days and he may now be a doubt for the Carling Cup quarter-final derby at Birmingham on Wednesday.