Football

Wenger proud that Gunners passed 'mental test'

Arsene Wenger insists Arsenal's FA Cup semi-final triumph over Manchester City yesterday morning (Singapore time)proved doubters wrong over their big-game credentials.

Despite a rugged first-half display, the Gunners fell behind thanks to Sergio Aguero's second-half strike but showed resilience and responded through Nacho Monreal's equaliser before Alexis Sanchez booked their place in next month's final in extra-time.

In arguably Arsenal's biggest game of the season, Wenger's men dug deep and fought for the victory, something the Frenchman applauded.

The Gunners boss said: "I felt it was a big test for us today, a mental test because many people question if we can turn up on an occasion like this and that's why I'm very proud of the players because they stayed united and determined.

"We had a strong response today, we had a little bit of a cautious start, hesitant sometimes, but we didn't give chances away and we grew into the game and slowly we became better and better.

"In the second half, we were very strong and, in extra-time, very strong. We always looked solid and dangerous because we played more in the second half.

"I want them (the players) to enjoy playing together and to play for the club.

"That is, for me, the most important thing and to reach the targets we set together.

"Football is a team sport and, as a manager, the biggest joy is when you feel like you have a real team performance, that was the case today and that's why I'm happy today.

"You know I feel the club is in a very strong shape, and that we have a very strong overall situation and a very strong team, we have shown that today and, for me, that is the most important.

"One day, I will leave anyway, so the most important thing is that Arsenal will always be a great club that everybody admires."

City manager Pep Guardiola failed to understand how Raheem Sterling's goal was ruled out, but insists his side will become a stronger team next season.

Sterling smashed home a rebound off Petr Cech in the first half, but the ball was ruled to have drifted out of play beforehand from Leroy Sane's cross.

Replays suggested the linesman made the wrong call, which left the Spaniard bemused by the decision.

"The linesman could not see that situation," Guardiola said.

"And to see that ball, you have to be in line and, when you are four or five metres away, you cannot see it.

"We will improve next season, we'll be stronger, all the games away against the Premier League teams." - PA SPORT

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