Wenger hails 'outstanding' Arsenal

21 March 2010 08:28

Arsene Wenger hailed the new-found maturity of his young Arsenal side after they overcame the sending off of defender Thomas Vermaelen to battle back to the top of the Barclays Premier League with a 2-0 win over struggling West Ham.

Denilson fired the Gunners in front after only five minutes but Vermaelen was deemed to have been the last man when he pulled down Guillermo Franco, and was shown a straight red card by referee Martin Atkinson. Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia, however, saved Alessandro Diamanti's penalty and captain Cesc Fabregas made it 2-0 with nine minutes left from the same spot following a handball by Matthew Upson.

"I believe we had an outstanding game," Wenger declared. "We played with class and spirit and we kept our nerve when the situation became difficult, so overall we have shown a good attitude, good maturity, and in the important moments in any department we were decisive."

He added: "Everybody adapted very well to the situation and technically I believe we were outstanding."

Wenger was left fuming by Atkinson's decision at the time, which rules Vermaelen out of the next game at Birmingham - leaving Arsenal short at centre-back.

"I felt it was very harsh," he said.

"We have seen this situation so many times in the game without it being punished at all."

Wenger's youngsters remain very much in the hunt for a first title since the Invincibles campaign of 2003/2004. And the Gunners boss said: "We are not under any special pressure because we are beyond expectation. We want to win the trophy because we are all conscious we have won nothing yet - the hunger is there, the talent is there and I think the nerves are there.

"All we can do is rely on the other results of the other teams, so the only thing we can do is master our own results. We have a good chance to do it this year.

"It will be exciting, tight and the response we gave in the second half was very important in future games."

Source: PA