Arsène Wenger’s ‘matured’ Arsenal leave Chelsea in tatters

Arsenal manager claims his side have answered their critics with resounding victory over Chelsea

Martin Caparrotta
By Martin Caparrotta
arsene wenger
Arsène Wenger says his side are no longer "bullied" by opponents physically

arsene wenger

BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE, 27 DECEMBER 2010
Arsenal
3
Chelsea
1

Arsène Wenger insists his Arsenal side have now finally cleared the mental hurdle responsible for his side’s dismal recent record against Chelsea by beating the champions in emphatic fashion at Emirates Stadium on Monday night.

Goals from Alex Song, Cesc Fàbregas and Theo Walcott sealed a resounding victory and ensured the end of Arsenal’s woeful run of form against their London rivals after having lost their last five league meetings on the spin.

Branislav Ivanovic’s headed goal for Carlo Ancelotti’s side proved nothing more than a consolation on a night in which Arsenal displayed the grit and determination they are so often perceived to lack.

Wenger’s men came into this game looking to capitalise on Chelsea’s recent slump yet questions over the gunners’ fragility—including those of club captain Fàbregas who suggested his side played as if they were “scared of losing” during their defeat at Old Trafford a fortnight earlier—continued to dominate ahead of Monday’s derby showdown.

But Wenger, whose side moved to within two points of leaders Manchester United in the Premier League table, is adamant that Arsenal have now answered the critics who had called their ability to perform on the big stages into question.

“We have matured,” said Wenger afterwards. “We’ve been frustrated in big games away from home his this season.

“Mathematically, it keeps us in touch with the leaders of the league. And psychologically, it was important. We were questioned about our capability of winning big games.”

“Two years ago with the same players we were maybe battered by Chelsea. Last year we felt we were getting closer.

“This year, at United and Chelsea, we were more frustrated because we were more in the game and there was no real difference. Maybe we played a bit with the handbrake. It was a slow learning process that we got out of our system tonight.”

Wenger also believes his side were helped by some new-found physical strength. He said: “We were good in the challenges tonight. We’ve improved on that front. We have more dimension in our team in all the duels. We are not bullied any more. That is for sure.”

Monday’s result heaped further misery on Chelsea, who have only won once in eight Premier League matches.

Ancelotti’s men have now fallen six points behind Manchester United and the Italian admits he is concerned about his side’s wretched form.

“We have to wake up, because now we are sleeping,” said Ancelotti. “Maybe I have to be the first to wake up. If you play against a good team like Arsenal, you lose if you don’t wake up.

“I’m worried, obviously, because that’s six or seven games we’ve not been able to win. I didn’t see the team playing the way we want.

The Chelsea manager added: “We must get back to playing the way we were last season and at the start of this season, but it is not easy. We have to keep playing and have confidence in our ability, our play, our capacity.”

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