Football

Wenger: No question about Gunners' character

Arsene Wenger insists he never questioned the character of his Arsenal side as they continued their turnaround with a vital win at Southampton.

The Gunners kept alive their hopes of a top-four finish in the Premier League as goals from Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud saw them win 2-0 at St Mary's yesterday morning (Singapore time).

After six league defeats from February to last month, Wenger's side had slid from title contenders to sixth place

The run also saw Wenger come under intense scrutiny as he refused to confirm if he would sign a new deal to stay at the club beyond this season.

However, a win over fellow top-four hopefuls Manchester United last Sunday was followed up with yesterday morning's victory over the Saints - their first win at St Mary's since 2003.

It means they leapfrog the Red Devils into fifth position, three points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester City with three games left, as Wenger looks to secure another season of Champions League football.

The Frenchman said he never doubted his players during their sticky run which still threatens to cost them a place at Europe's top table.

"I never questioned the character of my side, he said. "We went through a bad patch. It's a good opportunity to show your character, how you come back and how you recover.

"Let's not go too quickly to conclusions, and focus and give everything at Stoke."

Sanchez struck his 20th league goal of the season to open the scoring and Wenger was full of praise for the Chilean, whose future at the club is also up in the air with his contract expiring next year.

"The goal he scored tonight shows what he's about: Very good technique in a tight space," said Wenger.

"He scores important goals. Tonight is not a 5-0... He has invention in his head. He's creative, not fazed by anything, and he surprised everyone in the stadium tonight with his goal.

"Everyone was expecting him to take a shot, but he's very quick on the move. Giroud came on and the second goal was very important for us, too."

- PA SPORT

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