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Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Wenger pleased with improvement

ESPN Staff

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was pleased with his side's improvement in their 2-2 draw with Schalke on Tuesday, compared with the disappointing effort shown in their defeat to Manchester United at the weekend.

•  Arsenal held by Schalke

"For us it was important first of all not to lose and if possible to win,'' the Frenchman said after the 2-2 draw. "We managed the first part, not the second one. I felt that overall we played reasonably well, but we dropped physically in the second half and the regret we have is that overall we conceded the goal just before half-time and we missed a chance at the end of the game.

"I think the two, of course, have a big impact on the result overall. Schalke never gave up and worked hard. I believe we have shown a good response to Saturday's game and you feel the team is getting better. I think in one month, if we continue to develop, we will be there.''

Whilst his manager was pleased enough, midfielder Mikel Arteta had mixed emotions, lamenting the missed opportunity to take all three points and boost Arsenal's hopes of progressing to the next stage.

Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud gave the Gunners a 2-0 lead but Klaas Jan Huntelaar pulled a goal back before the interval and Jefferson Farfan's second-half goal earned the German side a point.

"Considering we were 2-0 up, it can't be good for us. We had the last chance too with Theo," Arteta said. "We were unlucky to concede just before half-time. It was a completely different game, but that happened. But this is not an easy place to come. We'll take the point."

Wenger was not as controversial as he has been about officials but was clearly irritated by referee Nicola Rizzoli's decision not to award a foul in the build-up to Huntelaar's goal and also for booking Lukas Podolski. He said: "Yes, [it was a foul] on Walcott and he gave the foul against Walcott. I invite you to see it again. It is a foul from Afellay on Walcott, 100%.''

Wenger added: "I must say there was another decision that was absolutely amazing. It was the first time I saw that in my long experience, to stop the game when a player has rolled over on his ankle. I have never seen that when you have a goal chance.

"The group is open. I believe we are of course in a position where you want to win our home game. If we win, we have a 50% chance to be through because Schalke plays Olympiakos here. They are in a position where they have absolutely to win that game as well.

"It will of course depend on our result first against Montpellier and then we will see what happens here. It could go to last game; we could, with luck, do it in the next game. Anyway, we are in a position where we must win against Montpellier.''

Goalscorer Theo Walcott echoed the sentiments of Arteta and said he was still confident that Arsenal would ensure qualification to the next phase.

"It was a good point in the end. It would have been a fantastic victory, they dominated the second half but we defended quite strongly," Walcott said. "We'll try to win our last couple of games and as long as we do that, we'll get into the next round."

Huub Stevens' side could also secure qualification in matchday five after a game in which Schalke responded well to going behind.

"I think we started really good,'' the German side's manager said. "The first 17 minutes were probably the best that we played this season. Then we had a dreadful 24 minutes, which of course was a very big disappointment for us.

"We had to catch up the game and luckily we made it 2-1 before half-time, which was really good. It gave us confidence. Then we managed to equalise to make it 2-2 and overall I think this is a just result.''




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