Wenger singles out Arsenal duo for praise after victory at Crystal Palace
PUBLISHED: 18:18 21 February 2015 | UPDATED: 18:18 21 February 2015
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Arsene Wenger praised central defenders Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker after Arsenal secured a battling 2-1 win over London rivals Crystal Palace.
An early penalty from Santi Cazorla and a close-range finish from Olivier Giroud put the Gunners 2-0 up by half-time, and they survived a frantic finale as Palace substitute Glenn Murray headed against the post moments after pulling a goal back in stoppage time.
Wenger admitted Arsenal rode their luck at times against the impressive Eagles, but overall he was pleased with his side’s performance – despite their late complacency.
“Certainly they thought that it was done and we know in the Premier League that it’s never done, especially at 2-0,” he said. “With that ball on the post we were a bit fortunate.
“It was about fighting and playing. Crystal Palace are a team who played with high intensity, a very direct game and for us it was important to resist and try to play.
“We did that well but at 2-0 at half-time we came out in the second half much more to protect our advantage than to continue to play and put them under pressure.
“We missed goal number three and when they came back to 2-1 we were a bit lucky, a bit fortunate. Overall we did fight and it was in the end a very important win for us.”
Koscielny and Mertesacker withstood everything that was thrown at them until Murray’s scrappy strike, and Wenger was sure to praise his centre-back pairing.
“Overall I must say that our central defenders played very well today against a very direct and a very physical game at the back. They did well so overall I’m pleased to have won three points in a place like this.”
Palace felt aggrieved by both Arsenal goals, with the penalty incident taking place right on the edge of the box and Danny Welbeck appearing to be offside in the build up to their second.
“I don’t know if he was offside or not but I think Giroud was not offside when he went clean through in the second half,” Wenger said.
“I am sure of that because he started behind the defenders and he was clean through. I don’t know if Welbeck was offside or not.”