One Premier League manager had every reason to be cheerful after watching his Arsenal team outplay Newcastle United, followed by the long-forgotten rendition of “there is only one Arsene Wenger’ by the Emirates Stadium crowd on Saturday.
Arsenal had not hit the ground running this season, but they are just two points outside the top four after beating Newcastle 4-1.
The French boss was delighted to hear fans sing his name towards the end of the game after enduring verbal abuse from supporters alike, earlier in the week following last weekend’s defeat at Stoke City while some have displayed banners calling for his dismissal.
“Our job is to win football games and when we don’t do it I understand when they are not happy,” said the French boss, 65.
“We lost, unfortunately, at Stoke and we feel guilty for that. But 99.9% it is people with full respect even when they’re not happy.
“I can take the 0.1%. Yes of course, I’m thankful for the fans singing my name at the end of the match. It’s very nice to get support from the crowd.”
Olivier Giroud backed his earlier support for the longest-serving manager in the English top-flight with a brace on the pitch, and Santi Cazorla ensured the north London club followed up their midweek UEFA Champions League triumph over Galatasaray with a re-assuring three points. Ayoze Perez pulled one back for Newcastle but to no effect.
Wenger called on his team to maintain the momentum from what has been a successful week through the festive period, and stressed they have the ability to prove cynics wrong.
“In the last six games, we won five,” Wenger said. “We can score goals, we showed that again and overall it was a dynamic game. Despite being depleted at the back we were quite solid and going forward we always looked dangerous.
“In the end we won in a convincing way. It was needed. The response was strong after the Stoke game. Let’s go well over Christmas.”
Due to Laurent Koscielny’s niggling Achilles problem and Calum Chambers’ suspension, right-back Matheiu Debuchy was reverted as a centre-back.
Wenger confirmed Arsenal will be without Koscielny for Saturday’s trip to Liverpool and that Aaron Ramsey, who has been battling with a hamstring problem, will be sidelined for the next couple of weeks.
The manager also reiterated he might delve into the winter transfer market in search of a defender should Koscielny continue to experience injury relapse.
Arsenal’s overall performance against the resurgent ‘Magpies’ hinged on a “balanced” offensive and defensive transition, according to the 18-year-long ‘Gunners’ boss, who was full of praise for young right-back, Hector Bellerin.
“It was the first time I’ve seen Bellerin playing without a handbrake and you could see that there’s something there,” Wenger added. “Debuchy was outstanding in a completely new position.
“We’ve had two good games and scored eight goals conceding only two. After the Stoke City incident, this is a very strong response and it shows what I said that this team is united, dynamic and wants to do well.”