London - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger expressed hope his
side's 2-2 draw with Manchester City will represent a turning point after an
extremely testing period in the club's recent history.
Criticism of Wenger from angry fans escalated during a run
of four defeats in five Premier League games that saw the club slide out of the
But while uncertainty about his future continues to linger,
he hopes Sunday's battling performance against City will help the team move on.
"Overall I felt it was a mental test and you could see
the team was touched on the confidence front," he told his post-match
press conference at the Emirates Stadium.
"It will help us to rebuild confidence because the
players felt that we showed some mental strength. That will help us come back
to our natural fluency.
"Mathematically, for both teams it's not the best
operation. But hopefully it will help us to restart now."
The result kept Arsenal seven points below City, who occupy
the fourth and final Champions League qualifying berth, but they retain a game
Fans protested against Wenger once again before the game.
An advertising van carrying a huge poster calling for him to
leave was parked near the ground, while leaflets were handed out to supporters
urging them to join the 'Wenger Out' brigade.
But Wenger praised the supporters inside the stadium for throwing
themselves behind the team.
"Despite all that happened, I felt our fans were
fantastic," said the Frenchman, whose side entertain West Ham United on
"In very difficult moments in the game - at 1-0 down,
2-1 down just before half-time - our fans could have turned against us.
"I think they were absolutely sensational and helped
the team to get through that difficult moment."
There was no update on Wenger's future, but in a sign he may
be starting to think about life after Arsenal, he vowed to "always support
Arsenal fell behind in the fifth minute when Leroy Sane
scuttled onto Kevin De Bruyne's hopeful pass and rounded David Ospina to score.
Theo Walcott levelled, only for Sergio Aguero to restore
City's lead 131 seconds later, but Shkodran Mustafi brought Arsenal level again
with a header from Mesut Ozil's 53rd-minute corner.
Wenger was unable to provide a prognosis on the Achilles
injury that forced centre-back Laurent Koscielny to leave the fray at
But he is optimistic that midfielders Aaron Ramsey and Alex
Oxlade-Chamberlain, both of whom were absent through injury, will be fit to
face West Ham.
Arsenal appeared to be at City's mercy in the first half and
visiting manager Pep Guardiola explained his side's failure to capitalise by
saying his players "forgot to play".
He also expressed regret that City had been denied an
injury-time penalty for a handball by Nacho Monreal that the Spaniard
supposedly admitted to Guardiola after the game.
City trail leaders Chelsea by 11 points ahead of Wednesday's
showdown at Stamford Bridge.
Guardiola heralded Yaya Toure for bringing poise to City's
play after replacing Raheem Sterling in a half-time tactical switch.
"If you want to play, you need this quality of
pass," he said.
"Yaya in there is a master. That is why he helped us a
lot in the second half to do that."
The City manager also hailed Jesus Navas after an injury to
Bacary Sagna and Pablo Zabaleta's lack of fitness saw the Spanish winger
surprisingly selected at right-back.
"His performance was outstanding. He faced maybe one of
the best players in the league by far, Alexis (Sanchez)," Guardiola said.
"It's not easy to be full-back, but how he defended him
and how he played with the ball offensively...
"I am so, so happy to give him the chance to play
because he did not play much in the last period.
"But he is one of the most fantastic guys I have ever
met in my life."