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Arsenal 15:00 Stoke

Wenger - We had to battle

Goodison win sends Gunners back to top

Last Updated: 29/12/07 8:44pm

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Wenger: Pleased with battling qualities

Wenger: Pleased with battling qualities

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Arsene Wenger felt his Arsenal side displayed their battling qualities in overcoming Everton 4-1 at Goodison Park.

Tim Cahill had given Everton a half-time lead before a second-half onslaught saw Arsenal score through Eduardo da Silva's brace, Emmanuel Adebayor and Tomas Rosicky.

With Manchester United losing at West Ham United, the result sends Arsenal back to the top of the Premier League and Wenger was pleased with his team.

"We battled, we had to," said Wenger. "Last season here, Everton played a very physical game and they were very direct. And we lost.

Very close

"I can understand that they repeated this tactic. This time we won, but it was very close.

"I was tempted to change the team around at half-time, but I felt the reason we were not winning was that we had become nervous after hearing the Manchester United result.

"But we were playing against a good Everton side who stopped us playing, they did well and it was up to us to get the ball down and be more positive. And to be less nervous because we lost too much possession in the first half.

"After the break we were maybe fortunate to score straight away, 1-1, and that changed the game. From then on we looked dangerous, Everton dropped physically and we were ahead very quickly."

The Gunners had Nicklas Bendtner sent off with the score at 2-1 and Wenger was buoyed by his players' response to the setback.

Spirit

He added: "The turning point was the fact that we played well with long balls, and we held on when we were down to 10 men and they still had 11.

"They then made that mistake and it killed the game.

"It was hard for Everton because the difference was not as big as 4-1. But they also had a player sent off and it became impossible for them.

"But it was a great result for us, we showed we can battle, we have a great spirit and showed that we can cope with all kinds of challenges - that is always a sign of a very good side."

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