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Media slam Arsenal 'soft centre'

Arsenal 1 day ago
Read
Aug 22, 2014

Arsenal won't be bullied, Wenger says

ESPN FC's Steve Nicol discusses Arsenal's upcoming trip to Goodison Park.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is confident his side will not be bullied in tough away trips again this season -- starting at Everton on Saturday.

The Gunners head to Goodison Park for the televised early evening kick-off looking to produce a much-improved display than the 3-0 defeat suffered in April, which looked to have put a huge dent in ambitions of finishing in the top four of the Premier League once again.

- Cross: Wenger preparing for acid test

Wenger admitted it was a "low point" of a roller-coaster campaign which would eventually finish in triumph, lifting the FA Cup at Wembley and having overtaken Everton after they faltered in the closing matches.

It was Arsenal's failures away to their title rivals -- suffering heavy defeats at Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea -- which ultimately scuppered any championship ambitions for a team who had been top of the table until February.

Wenger accepts there can be no repeat if Arsenal are to last the distance through to May 2015.

"Last year, yes in the quality of our performance and even more than that in mental resistance, the mental steel on the day, that [Everton away] was one of our low points," Wenger said. "At the start I played with [Mikel] Arteta and [Mathieu] Flamini in the middle of the park; we had not [Mesut] Ozil, we had [Aaron] Ramsey on the bench, just coming back from injury.

"We played with [Lukas] Podolski and [Olivier)] Giroud, and we were a bit bullied. At the back we had [Per] Mertesacker, [Thomas] Vermaelen, [Nacho] Monreal and [Bacary] Sagna. It was an off day, as well physically.

"Yes [I was worried we would not make the top four] because it was not in our hands any more. It was in the hands of Everton.

"It was only their defeat against Crystal Palace at home that allowed us to get there."

Arsenal may not have the biggest players, but Arsene Wenger insists they won't be pushed around.

Wenger feels this time around, things can be very different.

"Many teams think that [Arsenal can be bullied]. We get that question many times," he said. "But if you look at the results from the last three or four years away from home, we are the team with the best away results."

Wenger believes the current squad are up to the challenge physically, although accepted sometimes packing a side full of technically gifted players can make it seem a "bit lightweight."

The Arsenal manager added: "When we buy a player we do not look how heavy he is, but how good he is. It is a coincidence that we are a bit lightweight.

"Maybe because we use more technical players in the middle of the park, especially Arteta. On that front maybe.

"It depends as well who plays. If I play [Santi] Cazorla or Podolski, the weight is a bit different, but it is true we are a bit more lightweight than before, when we had [Emmanuel] Petit, [Patrick] Vieira, [Ray] Parlour. On Fridays when we checked the weight it was quite something there."

Wenger believes you cannot always legislate to find like-for-like physical replacements when aiming to move the team forwards.

"You always want to improve technically and sometimes when you want to do that you go a bit more for skill, which can be more lightweight," he said.

"At the time when Vieira left we had [Cesc] Fabregas there, who was 17 years old.

"However, you cannot say 'you are not heavy enough, so you cannot play.' Cesc had the quality to play."

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