Relief for Wenger as Arsenal's young British players steal show at Fulham

Frenchman takes aim at critics as homegrown talent show their worth with polished performance in atrocious conditions at Craven Cottage

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 August, 2013, 5:02am

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger hit out at critics who say he does not give young British players a chance after fielding five in their 3-1 win over Fulham yesterday.

Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey was named man-of-the-match having pulled the strings as Arsenal claimed their first Premier League points of the season and was joined on the pitch by England's Carl Jenkinson, Kieran Gibbs and Theo Walcott. Jack Wilshere was a second-half substitute.

"During the transfer period, people are so much focused on who is coming in that they forget how good our players are," Wenger said.

"Somebody told me there was an interesting article somewhere in a newspaper. I personally didn't read it so I don't give you any guarantee but they [apparently] said we don't bring players in. But on the other hand, the English players don't get the chance to play in the Premier League.

"If you look at our team today, you had Jenkinson who gets a chance, you get Walcott who has started with us, you have Ramsey, you have Wilshere, you have Gibbs - all [British] players who get a chance with us. You should give us some credit for that sometimes."

The Arsenal manager was also full of praise for forwards Olivier Giroud, who scored the opener, and Lukas Podolski, who netted either side of half-time.

"I am pleased for him [Podolski] because he hasn't started much recently more because of the balance of the team than his performances," Wenger said.

"I am pleased because he plays with a lot of spirit and he can score goals. Everybody in the squad loves Lukas and I want to keep him. When a player doesn't play he is not happy and recently he did not always start but if you look at his and Giroud's goalscoring record it's very good."

Giroud is frequently touted as a player Arsenal need to upgrade to improve their title chances, but Wenger expects him to kick on this season after he grabbed his third goal in three games.

"His second season is always better than his first one," Wenger said. "You could see as well technically today that he was quite impressive. His physical presence up front is very important and I think he looks like he's much more confident than last year."

It was the second time in four days Arsenal scored three goals, following Wednesday's 3-0 victory over Fenerbahce in their Champions League play-off and should put to bed talk of an early-season crisis.

Yesterday's win and the manner of the performance will go some way to making up for their opening-day slip-up at home to Aston Villa, while the names on the scoresheet might make fans think twice about demands for a new marquee striker.

"Yes, I'm pleased because we played like a real team. It is never easy to play away in the league and we did it convincingly," Wenger said.

Both teams have three points from their first two Premier League games after Fulham beat Sunderland in their first game of the season.

Despite their resounding midweek win, the pre-match talk still focused on Arsenal's need for reinforcements and the club's perceived failure to land a signing to excite frustrated fans.

"You can get people to focus too much on who you will buy and forget how good the players are here," Wenger added. "It's never easy to play away or win away and we did it in a convincing way. We had a disappointing result against Villa and it was important to respond."

There were also first wins of the season for Stoke City, who came from behind to beat Crystal Palace 2-1, and Hull City, who beat Norwich City 1-0.

Everton drew their second successive game after failing to break down West Brom in a 0-0 draw at Goodison Park, while Newcastle's match at home to West Ham was also scoreless.

Sunderland took the lead at Southampton through Italian Emanuele Giaccherini, but Jose Fonte equalised with two minutes to play to grab a 1-1 draw for the hosts.

Reuters, Associated Press