Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger demanded that his youthful players learn how to beat the lesser sides if they are to keep their newly-revived English Premier League title hopes alive.
The Gunners would have been 13 points off the pace had they lost at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, but their shock 2-1 win away to Chelsea gave their trophy ambitions a massive boost, cutting the gap with the Blues to seven points.
But Arsenal's youthful squad now need to back up their impressive victory by learning how to motivate themselves to beat the Premier League's also-rans as well as the title contenders, Wenger said.
“I have an intelligent group and a very young one and what you have to learn when you are very young is that in every type of game you need to find the resources to win it. To just turn up is not good enough,” said the Frenchman.
“I have a talented team but we want to come back with humility and work hard, and we have learnt now that you need that kind of focus in every game, no matter who you play.”
Arsenal have beaten Manchester United this season and reached the last 16 of the Champions League but have slumped to dismal defeats at the hands of Fulham, Hull and Stoke.
“It is true that we have regrets but it also shows that we have the level you need to be up there — and that's down to our desire to win now in the coming months,” said Wenger.
“It's part of the learning process: to learn to win when you're not completely on the edge. You know that you will not every week be exactly in the same kind of mind and Manchester United will not be and Chelsea will not be.
“But when they they play against Arsenal, they are.”
Arsenal secured their suprise London derby victory over Chelsea thanks to two goals from Netherlands striker Robin van Persie.
The Gunners' Switzerland defender Johan Djourou scored a 31st-minute own goal but Van Persie scored a controversial goal from an offside position in the 59th and struck again three minutes later to shock the hosts.
“It is a massive win for us because we had just lost two games unexpectedly and to have lost would have put us 13 points away from Chelsea — it would have been too much,” Wenger admitted.
“It was also a test of character. I'm very happy because we have now beaten Manchester United in a convincing way, and Chelsea. That brings us back to seven points. It's still far, but not impossible.”
Wenger praised France defender William Gallas, who was stripped of the club captaincy after his astonishing outburst about the commitment of his team-mates.
Since losing the armband and being dropped, Gallas played well in the Gunners' 1-0 win over Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League and in the victory over Chelsea — the club he left to join Arsenal in an uneasy transfer.
“For me, he came out of that troublesome period with a lot of credit,” Wenger said.
“His commitment is fantastic. He had an outstanding performance. He shows he's a real fighter. Instead of giving up, he fights even stronger.”
Chelsea had gone 86 home league games unbeaten before Liverpool won 1-0 at Stamford Bridge on October 26. But they have now lost two in four at their west London base and Wenger had sympathy for Blues boss Luiz Felipe Scolari.
“Sometimes its strange in the game,” Wenger said.
“We played 49 games unbeaten. When we lost the first game, we couldn't win for five games. Sometimes the charisma goes when you have a long record and you lose it.
“It looks as though the players have been up on Everest and suddenly they come down again and you tell them they have to climb it again, they just do not want to do it.”
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!