Wenger not surprised by Arsenal’s improvement

LONDON, Sept 17 (Reuters) – Arsene Wenger said no one should be surprised by his side’s battling 0-0 draw at champions Chelsea on Sunday, their best performance away from the Emirates Stadium since last season’s FA Cup final victory over Antonio Conte’s side.

“People forget that two months ago we beat Chelsea in the Cup final and they don’t give you the Cup, you know,” Wenger, whose side were lambasted after a 4-0 capitulation at Liverpool in their last away league game, told reporters.

“Overall I believe we have shown that many times. It’s true you have to accept criticism when we deliver the kind of performance we had at Liverpool — the only way to respond is on the pitch and that’s what we did today.

“We responded well in domains where we were questioned and I like when the team shows that kind of response.”

With Mesut Ozil unfit to start and Alexis Sanchez only on the bench, all eyes were on Arsenal to see if they would collapse as they did at Anfield and lose a sixth successive league match at Stamford Bridge.

Instead, just as at Wembley in May, they troubled Chelsea. They almost matched the home side for goal attempts and had the better chances, while at the back they played with steely resolve and discipline to become the first side to stop the Blues scoring in a competitive home game since Conte took charge.

Had Aaron Ramsey not been denied by the post or Shkodran Mustafi by a correct offside decision, Arsenal could have silenced their critics with a first away league victory.

While the Gunners are still awaiting their first league goal away from home, Wenger said the performance was more significant than the point.

“It was vital for us even above the result to come out with a solid performance on that front,” the Frenchman said.

“When you’re a football player, there’s only one thing that matters — the next game and how you respond to it.

“That’s what we did today.”

Wenger’s mood was only soured by an injury to striker Danny Welbeck, which forced him off in the second half.

“He has a groin problem,” Wenger said. “I don’t know how severe it is but it looks like a ‘good’ groin problem, not an easy one.” (Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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