Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger hailed the character of his side after they took a giant step towards Champions League qualification with a 3-0 win over Fenerbahce in Turkey – and then called off the pursuit of Luis Suarez.
“This team has shown a lot of mental strength. I told you yesterday that you had forgotten that this team has lost only one game since March under very, very special circumstance.
“Of course ,the environment we faced was difficult but the only way to do it is to go out there and play football like you want to play.
“I believe we played in a very, very heated atmosphere against a good team, but we had a proactive attitude from the first minute on, and that was certainly was very important tonight.
“We did not come in shaking, but came in resolute and determined and with a desire to take the game to them – and overall we were in control.”
The win, though, came at a cost as defender Laurent Koscielny was forced off with a cut head following a high boot from Pierre Webo, which left the France international needing hospital treatment.
Wenger was less than impressed by the challenge. He said:
“Laurent Koscielny has opened very deeply the skull and we had to take him to hospital.
“I was not happy with the kick because I feel always that you can ease a bit off. Only the player in the end will know what he did.
“We are concerned because we had to send him to hospital to see if he has not broken a bone. We are waiting for him to come back now, for information to find out if he can fly home with us.”
Wenger, who missed out on the signing of Gonzalo Higuain earlier this summer, feels the transfer market will now kickstart, but ruled out making an improved bid for Suarez following the club’s £40million+£1 offer which was rebuffed.
Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye and Real Madrid‘s Karim Benzema are reported targets.
“(There is) absolutely no chance of that,” said Wenger when asked about Suarez.”
The Gunners boss, though, stressed he was looking to strengthen, especially in midfield, with Mikel Arteta and Abou Diaby both also sidelined.
“We tried to bring one in, but we are working on that. You have to understand there is still a long way to go,” he said.
“The transfer market starts for me now and a lot of activity will happen between now and September 2.
“From August 21 until September 2 you have 12 days, so a lot will happen. It starts now.”
“It is like a poker game. People hold their cards as long as possible and see what is happening out there. In the end, they go for decisions.
“First everybody goes on holiday and nobody wants to do anything, then in many clubs there are manager changes. They need to know the squad before they make a decision. Many, many things, but it is always like that.”
Arsenal midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain missed the match because of a knee injury, but Wenger hopes the England international will not be sidelined for a lengthy spell.
He said: “It could be a bit longer than what I said (last night). There is no surgery – it will be between six and 12 weeks.”