By Richard Clarke
Saturday’s draw at West Brom raised certain questions about Arsenal’s title credentials - but it did prove unequivocally that they have the stomach for the fight.
Arsène Wenger’s side conceded regrettable goals in the opening minutes and just before the hour, so they went into the final stages at The Hawthorns with their Premier League ambitions in the balance.
Strikes from Andrey Arshavin and Robin van Persie hauled them level in the last 20 minutes but they could not find a winner at the death. The draw meant Arsenal slipped five points behind Manchester United with a game in hand but, in the mind of the manager, the comeback did demonstrate desire and backbone.
“The team has character,” said Wenger afterwards. “If you are 2-0 down with 20 minutes to go and you have no character then you don’t come back on a pitch like that. That is for sure.
“The team has solidarity, unity and a desire to do well. I don’t question that at all.
“Of course we were a bit nervous at the start of the game. We had four targets and now we have only one, so the pressure increases on that one. But the players are highly focused to do it and it was important not to lose on Saturday.”
Wenger admitted that his side had been hit by that defeat to Barcelona 11 days earlier but had now recovered and were ready to kick-on.
“You can not go out of the Champions League like we did and have no doubt,” he said. “For a few days the players were disappointed but you could see in the last two days that the players were highly focused again.
“This team wants to do well and I am so desperate to help them to get what they deserve. From the first day of the season, their attitude has been absolutely spot on. That’s why they deserve to be rewarded and I am confident they will.”Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 21 Mar 2011