Arsene Wenger praises his squad's spirit after overcoming battling Southampton
Photo: David Price

Arsene Wenger praises his squad's spirit after overcoming battling Southampton

The Gunners were made to work hard after the Saints took the lead and pegged the them back before Danny Welbeck's late winner

Jordan Owusu-Adu

Arsene Wenger praised his much-changed team’s spirit after their 3-2 win over Southampton on Sunday.

Gunners recover from early Saints scare

The Saints stunned the Gunners by taking the lead in the 17th minute when confusion between Petr Cech and Shkodran Mustafi allowed striker Shane Long to sneak in and finish from close range.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang continued his current hot form by drawing his side level just before the half-an-hour mark, toe-poking home after Danny Welbeck’s delicate flicked through ball. Welbeck himself then got on the scoresheet with a powerful deflected drive ten minutes later.

Charlie Austin then took advantage of poor Arsenal marking to level the score with less than 20 minutes to play, however, Welbeck got the winner in the 81st minute to secure the three points.

“We want to continue to win our games,” Wenger said after the match. “I wanted to rotate a little bit because we play so many games that I have no other way to do things.

“On top of that, we were questioned. Southampton were leading, they came back to 2-2, and every time I believe we have shown great spirit, even if at the end of the game it was a bit hectic."

Wenger also praised his side’s mentality as they continue to extend their good form after a difficult start to 2018.

“I’m very proud of that because I think we have been through a difficult patch, where the mentality of the team has been questioned and to recover from that you need solidarity, which is what they’ve shown," he said.

“As well today in the game when it was not all easy we again found the resources to win the game. I was always confident because I see this team behave every day and you can only be proud of their behaviour.”

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Defensive fragility almost costly

Despite claiming the victory, Arsenal were tested massively at times by a Southampton team that has struggled to score goals in the second half of the season. Wenger believes this was done to his sides’ attacking nature.

“We have an offensive team. That means as well the defenders are not always in the best possible conditions to defend, having to find a better balance in defending," Wenger stated. 

“I think recently we have done well and I believe on Thursday night, physically it was at a very, very high level and players like Bellerin and Mustafi had heavy legs today.”

Wenger was also asked about the red cards for Mohamed Elneny and Southampton's Jack Stephens, who was involved in an altercation with Jack Wilshere.

“I haven’t seen what happened with Jack, honestly. Elneny, I was a bit surprised that he was sent off, because he’s a fair player, he’s not an aggressive player.

“Has he touched the player in his face or not? I don’t know if he’s done it. I think it was accidental.”