Arsene Wenger was delighted and relieved that his Arsenal team were able to beat Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday, and not just because the performance deserved to see all three points come back to north London. The Frenchman admitted that the race for the Premier League title would have been over otherwise.
And the boss reckons that would have been really harsh on this group of players as he has seen how much hard work and dedication they have been putting in since last summer. So even more than he wants to win the EPL trophy in May for the Arsenal fans and for himself, Wenger believes that the efforts of the players deserve to be rewarded.
And that is why the boss was reported on the Arsenal website as saying that he had taken a big gamble on the fitness of our England international forward Danny Welbeck, and Arsene must have felt like he had won the jackpot on the Double Bubble Slot when Danny scored the opening goal! Wenger admitted that the striker was still struggling with the knee problem that saw him miss the end of last season and most of this one. But because of what Welbeck offers the team and the way he has played since his return, Wenger thought he had to risk him from the start against the Toffees.
He said, “He can play on the flanks and through the middle, so I can play him with Giroud or [instead of] Giroud – that gives so many options. You cannot say you don’t miss a player of that stature for nine months.
“I believe [he can make a difference]. I had many hesitations to play him before the game because he is still not completely over his knee problem.
“We have to be cautious but I pushed it because I knew this was now or never [for the Premier League title bid].
“I know this team has put in a lot of work since the start of the season, I know how much dedication this team has had over the last eight months and I want them to be rewarded.
“We have gone through a difficult period and it is a good test to see how a team survives after getting so much stick. When I see their response every day, this team deserves credit.”
Do you agree or do they deserve the stick they have been getting?