BURNLEY, United Kingdom, Nov 27 – Arsene Wenger heralded Arsenal’s strength of character after his side recorded a dramatic 1-0 victory at Burnley without Mesut Ozil.
After a morale-boosting local derby win over Tottenham a week earlier, Wenger was looking for Arsenal to build on that victory and improve on a record of just four points away from home this season.
The fact that the Gunners did so without German playmaker Ozil and against a Burnley team that started the day level on points with them in the Premier League table made the day especially rewarding for Wenger.
“For us, after the win against Tottenham, it was important to go away from home and play a different game and win it,” said Wenger, whose side are up to fourth place.
“And that’s what we did. For the benefit of the team it’s very important.
“They showed great character because we kept a clean sheet and they were really up for it, Burnley.
“We won 1-0 but congratulate our three centre-backs because they did a remarkable job.”
Ozil was ruled out of the game on the morning of the match with illness and will now be assessed before Arsenal’s next game against Huddersfield on Wednesday.
“The doctor came to see me and said Mesut had to travel back,” said Wenger.
“He was in the hotel with us, but then travelled back.
“There were traffic problems getting here so we arrived at 1pm and there was only 17 of us. How bad is he, will he be available for Wednesday? We’ll see what it is.”
Alexis Sanchez won the game with an injury-time penalty, awarded after a push by James Tarkowski on Aaron Ramsey, and, despite complaints from Burnley players and supporters, Wenger was adamant that referee Lee Mason made the correct call.
He also claimed Arsenal may have been awarded an earlier one after Robbie Brady tackled Hector Bellerin in the area.
“From outside it looked 100 percent a penalty,” said Wenger.
“I don’t know why he pushed him with two hands in the back.
“There was one on Bellerin as well, I can understand why they were disappointed but from our side it looked a penalty.
“When you speak to him, He didn’t throw himself on the ground, he wanted to go back and flick the ball, he was pushed in the back.
“He has a problem in his neck from the push, it was a very strong push.”
– More influential –
Wenger also reserved praise for Sanchez, the match winner who many expect could leave the club in the January transfer window as he enters the final six months of his contract at the Emirates Stadium.
“I pushed him more in the middle in the second half and he was much more influential,” said Wenger.
“I felt in the first half he was like the team. He didn’t get into it enough but the second half was much better, more dangerous.
“You could see through him danger could be created.”
Burnley manager Sean Dyche agreed that referee Mason had made the right decision in awarding the penalty although he did question, mischievously, whether a small club such as his own would have been given the decision.
“There was no problem with Ramsey at all,” said Dyche. “That was a smash in the back compared to what most people go down with in this division, there was a definite nudge in the back.
“But I don’t think he was going to get the ball, it’s going over him. So probably it gets given but we’ve had a lot not given like that. I don’t know why.
“The bigger clubs seem to get the decisions. I’m not sure if that’s a fact.
“You have to be clear, only because it’s unlikely he’s ever going to get there, so when is a foul a foul?”