Wenger - Stoke display was the exception

Arsene Wenger says Arsenal's defensive performance at Stoke City was the exception, not the rule, for his team this season.

The Gunners conceded three first-half goals at the Britannia Stadium last weekend and, despite a second-half resurgence, could not rescue a point.

Wenger's team responded with a 4-1 win at Galatasaray in midweek and the manager was pleased with their improvement at the back.

"It is always the last game that is judged definitively on the quality of the team"

Arsene Wenger

"I think we defended well in Galatasaray," he said. "Before that game we had three clean sheets in a row but that is the modern game - it is always the last game that is judged definitively on the quality of the team.

"The last one was Galatasaray, before it was Stoke. Yes, we did not defend well at Stoke but I feel that at Galatasaray we defended well.

"We came back at five o’clock in the morning on Wednesday and we just have to recover at the moment," Wenger added. "Our sessions are recovery, recovery because we played as well two more Champions League games.

"We have played eight Champions League games since the start of the season and we are exposed to demands physically that allow us to work less than we would like to. But of course we work on our weak points."

"We want to play top level games and over the years we have learnt to cope with that and we don’t want to complain. I have played my 180th Champions League game, that means we can cope with that and Arsenal has learnt to cope with that."


Hector Bellerin


Arsenal must face Newcastle United on Saturday without the injured Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal, or the suspended Calum Chambers. But Wenger is happy with the progress Hector Bellerin has made.

"He’s getting better from game to game," said the manager. "At the start he was a bit inhibited, but in the last game I think he played with more freedom.

"Defensively I have 24 hours to think about [my options] and I will find a solution for tomorrow. We have to play somebody with almost no experience or somebody who is not used to playing in the position."

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