Thursday 20 September 2018

Wenger promises to bounce back

Gunners boss believes players will erase Saints thrashing

Southampton’s Shane Long celebrates as he scores their fourth goal during their Premier League match against Arsenal at St Mary’s Stadium on Saturday Photo:Getty
Southampton’s Shane Long celebrates as he scores their fourth goal during their Premier League match against Arsenal at St Mary’s Stadium on Saturday Photo:Getty
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger looked an uncomfortable spectator at St Mary’s Stadium on St Stephen’s Day Photo:Getty

Arsene Wenger is confident Arsenal will numb the pain of the St Stephen's Day shellacking at Southampton within 48 hours.

The trip to St Mary's seemingly offered the Frenchman's side a great chance to go top of the Premier League, but a poor display saw them return to north London reeling from a shock 4-0 defeat.

Shane Long's brace complemented an exceptional Cuco Martina half-volley and Jose Fonte's header as Saints ended a six-match winless run in some style.

There is little time for Arsenal to wallow, though, as the hectic festive period means they take on another south-coast side tonight.

Bournemouth will look to ratchet up the pressure, but Wenger is confident of a positive response at the Emirates Stadium.

"I believe what I say to my players is between my players and myself," he said after the 4-0 hammering at St Mary's.

"These players have fantastic spirit and they can show that in 48 hours.

"We are in a job where we have to respond. We want to respond from disappointments.

"Unfortunately, there's no possible career without disappointment. Nobody, not even the best players in the world, can have that."

Wenger certainly will not be taking Bournemouth lightly and praised the promoted side ahead of a match which could see the Gunners belatedly reach the Premier League summit.

Surprise leaders Leicester do not face Manchester City until tomorrow, but Wenger is not concerned about starting 2016 in pole position.

"I said before the game, whether we are one point behind or one point in front it is not too important," he said.

"It is the quality of our performance that counts and we were not good enough to win the game (against Southampton).

"We have just to look at that. On the other side, we can't dwell too much because in 48 hours we play again.

"We are disappointed and frustrated, but there's only one way to respond in 48 hours."

Wenger rejected former England manager Glenn Hoddle's belief that the players choked due to the pressure brought by potentially going top, so too the necessity to dip into the transfer market next month.

The Gunners boss downplayed speculation linking Arsenal to Basle's Mohamed Elneny and was keen to underline the quality waiting that will be at his disposal after injury.

"That's always the question you get," Wenger said. "We have many players who are injured and will come back soon.

"Buy, buy, buy, buy is always the solution that people see."

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe wants his side to learn from their match against Crystal Palace.

The Cherries drew 0-0 with fifth-placed Palace and Howe believes his side showed moments of real class but did not quite have enough to finish the game off.

He said: "It was a real battle today. The way we defended set plays, I thought we really stood up to that test very well."

The Arsenal match is Bournemouth's last game of 2015 and their last before the transfer window opens but Howe believes he will not be looking for new strikers in January.

"I think you are always looking for ways to improve but certainly I have been really pleased with our front line and how we have attacked recent games.

There will be a last minute decision as to whether Irish midfielder Harry Arter will start after Howe brought him off at half-time on Saturday having only just returned from a hamstring injury.

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