Arsene Wenger felt Arsenal’s “special resilience” paved the way for Sunday’s 1-0 derby victory at Tottenham.
The Arsenal manager was quick to pay tribute to his two centre-halves following the win at White Hart Lane as Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny repelled everything Tottenham threw at them, after midfielder Tomas Rosicky’s spectacular strike after just 72 seconds gave Wenger’s men something to cling to in the fiercely fought north London clash.
Tottenham largely dominated the game after Rosicky’s decisive strike, with Emmanuel Adebayor in particular looking sharp against his old club, but the home side were left to rue wasteful finishing.
Wenger is aware of the significance of the result, with fellow Premier League title rivals Liverpool winning 3-0 at Manchester United earlier in the day, as Arsenal moved to within four points of leaders Chelsea with a game in hand.
“It is a huge result,” Wenger said.
“We were under pressure to win before the game because of course it was a very important game.
“Our early goal influenced maybe too much the rest of the game, we missed a second goal and after that we wanted to protect the lead and sometimes we were under pressure.
“Tottenham played well we must say. For me, they were absolutely up for it and we needed some special resilience to get away with it and as long as we didn’t score the second goal of course it was a very tight game, so for us it is a massive three points.”
Arsenal’s centre-back partnership came in for special praise, giving Wenger’s team the backbone they have perhaps lacked in recent years.
The Frenchman added: “They were exceptional, yes.
“And when (Thomas) Vermaelen came on (as a late substitute) we finished with the three and Tottenham couldn’t create any chances anymore.”