Arsène Wenger spoke to the media after Arsenal's 2-0 win against Middlesbrough on Sunday. This is what he had to say:

on the victory...
We controlled the game from the first to the last minute. They had one chance at the end from a header, but overall I’m pleased with the way we attacked, the way we defended and with the way we played together with a good focus for 90 minutes. That’s basically it.

on Olivier Giroud’s goals...
The first goal is what we try to do in our game and our build-up. The second goal shows that the game belongs to the players as well because it’s a consequence of two players who respond quickly to a situation, analyse it quickly and do what they want to do well. That’s basically what it was. It’s a consequence of intelligence and technique.

He has shown three important qualities - great concentration levels, great urgency to defend and good pace, especially on the recovery tackle he made in the box

Wenger on Gabriel

on whether Giroud’s importance is underestimated...
I believe that he is a different player today than the guy who arrived here for two reasons. One, he understands what top-level football demands, works with a great concentration in training and he has improved tremendously on his mobility, his technical quality and of course his body is very strong. He uses it very well.

on Alexis Sanchez...
He had a good performance. I think he became stronger as the game went on but because I took a gamble with him, I took him off with 20 minutes to go. He needed the game as well.

on whether Alexis put pressure on to play...
He always wants to play. Everybody’s like that but he’s a bit more like that.

on whether Alexis is more himself now...
Yes. He didn’t miss too many games and what was important for him was to get through the game without injury.

on Gabriel...
It was interesting to observe Gabriel today because he played his first game in a cup game that we absolutely had to win. He has shown three important qualities - great concentration levels, great urgency to defend and good pace, especially on the recovery tackle he made in the box. On the other hand, he played a little bit with the handbrake on because he did not want to make a mistake. From what I’ve seen there’s a lot to come from him because technically he is good at passing as well.

on playing with freedom going forward...
The first thing that goes with confidence is the spontaneous activity in the game. Even if you are confident without the technical quality of Ozil and Cazorla, you can go together on the pitch. Even if you are confident I’m not sure you can repeat what they can do.

on whether this is the most open FA Cup...
Maybe the highest number of teams in the Premier League have gone out but we still have some big teams in there. Let’s wait for the draw.

on how seriously Arsenal are taking the FA Cup...
We have a week now to prepare for the Crystal Palace game and I did rotate today as well. I changed two defenders from our last game. It shows that everybody’s focused and has the quality to compete for places in the team. At the moment, in every single position, we have two very good players.

on Danny Welbeck...

It’s important that we feel strong at home because we have some tough opponents here. We still have to play Liverpool, Chelsea and Everton at the Emirates

Arsène Wenger

One of the reasons I bought him is that he can play central striker and wide. I believe he’s doing extremely well and is contributing to the team very well. He can play central striker like he did for a long time but the most natural centre forward we have is Giroud. All the strikers we have can play in different positions. The only one who can only play centre forward is Giroud, so when Giroud plays the others have to move out wide.

on Jack Wilshere...
He’s two weeks ahead of schedule. I had a hesitation to put him on the bench today but I thought I wanted him to have one more week of training at least.

on Middlesbrough...
They are a good side, well organised and if they had come back to 2-1 I think we would have struggled a little bit. They played good football with a good fluency in their game. We managed not to give them any chance today but overall you feel it is a good team.

on nine home wins in a row...
It’s important that you play well at home because we have plenty of home games in the Premier League. It’s important that we feel strong at home because we have some tough opponents here. We still have to play Liverpool, Chelsea and Everton at the Emirates and those will be very important games for us.

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15 Feb 2015