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Wenger on....West Ham

Filed: Saturday, 6th October 2012
By: Staff Writer No.2

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger discusses what he saw during his side's somewhat flattering 3-1 win at the Boleyn...

Arsene: are you still unsure whether Theo Walcott is a centre forward or not?

He's getting there. We're confident now that when he gets in front of goal he will score now. He scored an important one today at the moment when the game was a little bit 50-50.

We weakened a bit physically in the second half; it was a very important test for us today. We expected a difficult game and we were not disappointed. It was a game with a lot of pace where both teams went for it in different styles. It was a good test - mentally as well because we were one-nil down from their first shot on goal but we came back to win the game.

Olivier Giroud's goal came at a good time after going one-nil down?

It came at the right time and in a similar situation to one he nearly scored against Olympiakos on Wednesday night. He was good today - he had a physical presence and scored a goal. That will help him a lot, I think, to adapt very quickly.

Santi Corzola showed his class as well with a spectacular finish?

He was, overall, a delight to watch from the first to the last minute. He was very influential in our team and it was fantastic to watch him play.

How do you think you coped with [Andy] Carroll?

Quite well. You can never control Carroll completely for 90 minutes. You have to fight for him and be good on the second ball - the problem with West Ham is not only Carroll but also Nolan on the second ball in the box. We could have been punished once or twice but overall we coped well with it. He was really up for it, Carroll, I must say, and he did fight absolutely from the first to the last minute.

[Question from Matt Law of the Sunday Mirror] You had to put up with some pretty terrible abuse today?

I don't listen to that.

It was kind of back to the bad old days?

I don't want to talk about that stupidity. It's not my problem. It only punishes people who talk stupidly.

That moves Arsenal up to fifth in the table. It's good to have some momentum going into the international break?

It was important for us to respond well after our game against Chelsea. We won against Olympiakos on Wednesday night then had a different game three days later. We knew today that a draw was not good enough for us, so we went for it. We could have lost it as well - I think maybe it was Nolan who had a very good chance - but we gave absolutely everything to win the game.

You seemed very unhappy with some of the decisions in the first half. Was that the case?

We got a cheap yellow card for Gervinho and we had a penalty turned down for [Aaron] Ramsey. We'll have to watch it again.

What's happening with Kieran Gibbs?

Gibbs has a thigh problem, he might be out for England.

Would you have expected him to get a chance?

I believe that [Ashley] Cole and [Leighton] Baines are in front of him but it would have been a good opportunity for him in training to show that he can get in front of them.

There were shades today that your passing game was at its best. Was this game a watershed for you to push on, to get into the top four and stay there?

Look; we started with a lot of questions raised about the team this season. We've now played seven games and the belief is in the squad and that we have a chance. Of course, it's now down to us to do it week after week. The spirit is there, the quality is there - it's all about how consistent we can be now.

Cay you talk for a second about the effect Steve Bould has had helping you defensively?

That's very difficult, I feel. When you look at us last year we didn't concede many goals from set pieces. He has done well but you cannot measure what the coaches bring to the team. He is doing very well but we are united as a staff team; with Neil Banfield, Boro Primorac and Steve Bould we do our job. We'll see where we are at the end of the season.

Theo Walcott's made his position clear to you. He can't do anymore than he did today, coming on and scoring like that?

Yes; that's what you want from the players. Theo has an outstanding attitude and I don't rule anyone out. If I did I wouldn't bring him on in a crucial moment of the game - I believe in him. I brought him on at 1-1 - Gervinho was looking a bit tired - and he made the difference. He scored the second goal and that was the most important one.

He was obviously signed as a striker. Do you see that as his long-term position?

Yes... He could play with Carroll maybe? [laughter]

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