Football

Published: Monday March 17, 2014 MYT 3:47:02 AM
Updated: Monday March 17, 2014 MYT 3:48:06 AM

Wenger hails Arsenal's special resilience

LONDON (Reuters) - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger praised his team's resilience after they hung on to beat local rivals Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 on Sunday and revive their faltering Premier League title challenge.

The victory took Arsenal, who have a game in hand, to within four points of leaders Chelsea who they meet at Stamford Bridge next Saturday when Wenger takes charge of his side for the 1,000th time.

Tomas Rosicky struck the winner in the second minute and Arsenal clung on in the face of sustained Spurs pressure to secure their first league win at White Hart Lane since 2007.

"We were under pressure for long periods of the game because our early goal influenced the way we played and because we could not find a second goal it was very very tight," Wenger told reporters.

"Tottenham played well, they were absolutely up for it and we needed some special resilience to get away with it.

"In the end we have taken three massive points and it gets us a bit closer to Chelsea and makes the game next week even more interesting," the Frenchman added.

"We are four points behind them and have a game in hand and we have five games left at home, so it makes the next game a very big one."

Rosicky thrashed a diagonal shot from the edge of the box past Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris with the ball flying high into the net as hundreds of fans were still taking their seats.

"It will go in my collection of great goals," Wenger beamed.

"I have told Tomas that. He is not a typical goalscorer and he surprised everybody, before anyone realised what he was doing it was in the back of the net. It was an unbelievable goal.

One of the hallmarks of Wenger's 18-year reign at Arsenal is the discipline and resilience his teams have shown in adversity and that was in evidence on Sunday as they withstood waves of attacks from a Tottenham side desperate to keep alive their fading chances of a top-four finish.

"We defended brilliantly today and we needed to stay focused and we did and still have everything to play for," Wenger said.

SECOND BEST

As so often has been the case since Wenger became Arsenal manager in 1996, Tottenham finished second best to their bitterest rivals.

Following a 4-0 defeat by Chelsea last week and a 3-1 loss to Benfica in the first leg of their Europa League round of 16 tie, Spurs desperately needed a win but despite 17 goal attempts, they could not find the net.

Nacer Chadli had three good chances in the second half and former Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor went close three times against his old club, leaving Spurs coach Tim Sherwood to rue what might have been.

"We took the game to Arsenal, a team challenging for the title and we did not deserve to lose that game, I think we deserved to win it" he said.

Sherwood was highly critical of his players after the capitulation at Chelsea when they conceded four goals in the last 30 minutes, but he praised his team on Sunday.

"I am a winner and I would rather win but anyone who has seen the game today knows we didn't deserve to lose it. They had one shot in the second half. We stuck to our guns, we showed some quality and we should have scored.

"If we'd have scored the momentum would have carried us on and we would have won the game. The crowd were electric because they could see what was happening and they appreciated the effort from the team."

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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