Wenger urges Gunners to respond

BY foxsports • November 23, 2010

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger insists the Gunners must "bounce back as quickly as possible" ahead of the Champions League Group H clash in Braga.

The Gunners headed out to Portugal with the cheers of bitter rivals Tottenham still ringing in their ears after contriving to throw away a 2-0 lead during Saturday's north London derby at Emirates Stadium, where a win would have sent them top of the Premier League.

Wenger was fuming by the manner of his team's capitulation - throwing a water-bottle to the floor in the technical dugout while also reading the players the riot act after the final whistle.

However, having now had a chance to reflect on events, the Arsenal manager believes positives can be taken from the team's overall performance despite the disappointment of the final outcome.

"My job is to win football games and when I don't do, I am very angry and frustrated," Wenger said.

"But we have a healthy and a very ambitious spirit.

"The players were very, very down, they know that they basically threw away a game which was in our hands.

"On the other hand, because the players are intelligent they know as well that in this game they have shown huge potential.

"The disappointment is down to the result and to the fact we could have taken command of the league, but overall there is no reason for it to affect really deeply the confidence of the team.

"When you play against opponents of quality, you have to accept defeats as well."

Wenger continued: "If you look too much at the result, you become tense.

"You have to release the tension as much as you can - and you do it by focusing on the technical side.

"It is a bit like Formula One driver when he goes into the curve and thinks 'I want to cross the line at the end', then he goes in the wall.

"But if he focuses on how he wants to take this curve, he has a chance to get out of it - and it's a bit the same in our game."

Despite his concentration on a positive response, Wenger is all too aware the whole issue of not being able to close out matches could again come back to haunt his side.

"That is the danger, that mentally it can become an issue," he said. "I don't think it will be, but that is the fear you can have, that if it is repeated then it can become something which can block the team.

"We need to bounce back as quickly as possible."

Defeat to Spurs was offset in some part by Chelsea's loss at Birmingham.

"We could not take our chance to go top and if you look overall to our position, we are third, two points behind the leaders," Wenger said.

"We are top of our Champions League group, we are in the quarter-finals of the Carling up, we have not started the FA Cup yet, so overall the season will be what we make of it."

Arsenal travelled to Braga - via Vigo in Spain, because of Portugal's general strike this week - without defender Gael Clichy, who has a minor back problem, while both Andrey Arshavin and Robin van Persie were also left in London to recover fitness.

England international Kieran Gibbs is set to stand in at left-back.

Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner is also in contention, having not featured since his outspoken comments over selection, while captain Cesc Fabregas could start on the bench.

Braga may have been swept aside 6-0 in north London on when the sides met during September, but could go level with the Gunners - currently top of the group on goal difference from Shakhtar Donetsk.

"In the first match against Braga, everything went for us and we had a very good game, but we have to forget that - we feel it will be a completely new game," Wenger said.

"We will not feel any superiority, but we know that to win any away game in the Champions League you need to turn up with a good performance."


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