Alexis Sanchez received some praises from Arsene Wenger for the uncommon qualities he exhibited for scoring the first goal and assisted in Olivier Giroud’s second goal at Southampton where they won 2-0.
Arsenal’s victory Wednesday assured them of the Premier League top four position and also keep their hopes alive for a 20th unbroken season of European Champions League.
Sanchez broke the stalemate in the 60th minute at St Mary’s, moving forward after Mesut Ozil’s pass and unsettling two defenders before netting his 20th goal of the league campaign.
“The goal he scored tonight shows what he’s about: very good technique in a short space,” Wenger remarked.
“He scores important goals. He has invention in his head. He’s creative, not phased by anything, and he surprised everyone in the stadium tonight with his goal.
“Everyone was expecting him to take a shot, but he’s very quick on the move.”
Sanchez was instrument in Giroud’s second goal after making a pass, which Aaron Ramsey nodded for the second goal in 83rd minute.
“Giroud came on and the second goal was very important for us, too,” Wenger said.
“We had to (dig deep) because Southampton started at a strong pace. The first half was quite even, but we were focused and determined.
“I felt if you look at individual performances you couldn’t be disappointed from the goalkeeper to Danny Welbeck. Everybody played well.” He said.
Arsenal need to keep more pressure on the top four teams with same measure of focus so as to win the outstanding matches, continuing with Stoke on Saturday.
Despite the fact that Wenger knows the maximum of nine remaining points is not enough for a top-four position, he believes his team can win the games.
“I don’t know more than you,” Wenger said, who is still to announce whether he will remain at Arsenal beyond the end of the season.
“But I believe that, for us, it’s important to maintain the focus and intensity in every single game.
“We’ll need another strong performance at Stoke. We came to a difficult ground today and we go to another on Saturday.
“We know we can only win our games and we had a strong performance on Sunday (beating Manchester United 2-0) and a strong performance today. So let’s just continue.”
Recent win at St Mary’s was Arsenal’s first victory since December 2003.
Wenger however played down suggestions that extra character was displayed on the team’s part, earlier accused of a lackluster disposition.
“I never questioned the character of my side,” Wenger affirmed.
“It’s not because you lose games people expect you to win that you have no character. We went through a bad patch.
“It’s a good opportunity to show your character, how you come back and how you recover. But let’s not go too quickly to conclusions. Let’s focus and give everything at Stoke on Saturday.”
Wenger may not feature Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain when his team visit Stoke City because the lad sustained a hamstring injury.
None could say emphatically if he would be back on time for the FA Cup final against Chelsea come May 27.
“He was walking properly. It was tight, not like a knife,” Wenger said.
“It was more fatigue, but it’s difficult to assess so close.”
Southampton maintains its 10th position on the log after failing to score in three successive games.
“We cannot find the good clinical edge,” said beaten manager Claude Puel.
“Every time it was interesting, I think, the play. Just not enough.
“All the games the same thing. We saw our games since the beginning of the season, many games where we’ve had the same feeling.
“Opportunities, chances, good play, but no clinical edge.”