Wenger promises more after Gunners respond

August 31, 2008

Arsene Wenger maintains there is plenty 'more to come' from his young Arsenal side this season.

The Gunners have produced the perfect response following the fall-out from defeat at Fulham with two impressive victories in a week, as first Dutch side FC Twente and then Newcastle were yesterday swept aside 3-0 at the Emirates Stadium.

The performances - against sides coached by two former England managers in Steve McClaren and Kevin Keegan - have certainly silenced any talk of a club in crisis.

Although it will take a sustained level of such consistency, after seven goals were scored without reply, to see the Gunners mount a sustained challenge for the Barclays Premier League crown, Wenger feels his squad is shaping up nicely.

'I think there's more to come,' declared the Arsenal manager, who will continue his quest to bring in another midfielder ahead of Monday's transfer deadline.

'We have a team whose game is based on movement and passing. It is linked with the quality of how much we integrate our philosophy of the game and how much we want to push our talent.'

Robin van Persie netted a brace, one from the penalty spot after 18 minutes following a handball by Charles N'Zogbia, before he had to be replaced in the second half with an ankle problem.

It is, however, understood the injury is not serious and the Dutch forward should report for international duty next week.

Arsenal could have added more than just Denilson's well-worked effort as they continued to press forward during the closing stages.

Just before he was replaced, Van Persie had smashed in an angled drive from almost on the goalline which ricocheted off the underside of the bar at the near post, while Newcastle goalkeeper Shay Given was kept busy by Kolo Toure's header and also a curling free-kick from Samir Nasri.

Substitute Theo Walcott - under the watchful gaze of England boss Fabio Capello for the second time in a week - will know he should have found the back of the net rather than the advertising hoardings when set up on the overlap following another fine flowing Arsenal counter-attack.

Emmanuel Eboue had one of his best games for the Gunners, the much-maligned Ivory Coast man having set up Van Persie for his second just before half-time with an intelligent backheel following a surging run into the Newcastle penalty box.

Wenger was pleased to see his faith rewarded.

'He is a football player. You cannot say he is not,' the Arsenal manager reflected.

'There was a little bit of frustration from the fans because they thought that he didn't always have enough end product, but he has improved a lot in that respect with his final balls since the start of the season.'

Another player in the thick of the action yesterday was Nasri.

The £12million summer signing from Marseille has slotted in quickly to the Arsenal team ethic, and scored on his debut against West Brom.

Wenger said: 'We like him to have the ball because we know, every time he does, he will do something with it.

'When he gets the ball, you are happy. That's the sign of a good player. You do not have to worry about the rest.'

There was, though, something of an unsavoury incident involving the France international during the closing stages when he clashed with Newcastle substitute Joey Barton.

The midfielder, sent on with just two minutes left, was making a first appearance since his early release from a jail sentence following a conviction for assault and affray.

Barton, 25, will face Football Association disciplinary chiefs next week after admitting a charge of violent conduct against former team-mate Ousmane Dabo, and could be in line for a long suspension.

Nasri, following a hefty challenge from Barton soon after he arrived on the pitch, appeared to trip the Newcastle midfielder off the ball and was cautioned by referee Rob Styles, even though he did not see the incident himself.

It left Newcastle boss Keegan seething at the final whistle, when he confronted the Frenchman as they walked off the pitch.

Wenger insisted his players must always show 'control'. He added: I believe we should focus always on what is right in the game.

'We do not want players doing that (retaliation). Even if you are provoked, you have to control yourself.'

As to whether the flare-up had anything to do with Dabo being a close friend of so many of the Gunners' French contingent, Wenger noted: 'I don't know if it's linked with that. It can always be an explanation, but not an excuse.'

Midfielder Cesc Fabregas made his 200th appearance for Arsenal yesterday.

The 21-year-old Euro 2008 winner said: 'I am very happy, and learned nearly everything I know here.

'I feel loved and am very happy at this club, I love playing for this team.'