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Tuesday 23 May 2017

We had a strong response says Gunners boss

Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez. Pic: Reuters
Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez. Pic: Reuters

Arsene Wenger insists Arsenal's FA Cup semi-final triumph over Manchester City proved doubters wrong over their big game credentials.

Despite a rugged first-half display yesterday , the Gunners fell behind thanks to Sergio Aguero's second-half strike but 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."

Premier League defeats at Liverpool, West Brom and Crystal Palace prompted Wenger to change his formation and use a 3-5-2 formation. Victory at Middlesbrough followed and the Frenchman believes tactical alterations were needed in order to restore stability, not due to pressure from the fans.

Wenger added: "No matter what you do, even if you get it right at some stage, people say 'why didn't you do it earlier? So it's like the opposite is right as well, if you get your starting line-up wrong, you change it at half-time, people will say 'see he is a tactical magician,' because he changed the team at half-time but they forget that he got it wrong at the start.

City manager Pep Guardiola said: "We had a good performance, we played like you have to play a final. We did absolutely everything to play, like Tottenham, so it's congratulations to Arsenal and Chelsea."

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