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Arsenal responded like a boxer - Wenger
Arsenal responded like a boxer - Wenger

Arsenal responded like a boxer - Wenger

Written by Gideon Sarpong

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger likened his team to a boxer struggling to get up after a knockdown as they overcame their recent poor form to win 2-0 at AC Milan in the Europa League.

The Gunners' last-16 first-leg victory in the San Siro meant they avoided a run of five straight defeats, which they last experienced in 1977.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey scored the goals.

"It is an important win because we had a nightmare week," said Wenger.

The Gunners fell to a limp Premier League defeat at Brighton on Sunday, following back-to-back 3-0 losses against Manchester City - the first of which came in the League Cup final at Wembley.

They also lost 2-1 at home to Swedish minnows Ostersunds FK, surviving a second-leg scare to set up the tie against Milan.

Fans have continued to turn against Wenger, with 88% of the Arsenal Supporters' Trust's 1,000 members voting this week in favour of the 68-year-old Frenchman's contract being terminated at the end of the season.

It meant Arsenal arrived at the San Siro at arguably the lowest point of Wenger's 22-year reign, but produced an improved performance to inflict a first defeat in 13 games on the Italians.

"When you have big disappointments you forget quickly that you have some qualities. In one week, you do not become a bad team or a bad player. Nothing is permanent in life," said Wenger.

"When you are knocked down it's a little bit like in a boxing match when you're half-knocked down you don't have time to recover and the next one comes again. That's what happened to us.

"But at some stage you know you have to respond. Your pride and desire to show quality has to come through in the game."

Gunners legend Ian Wright accused Wenger's side of lacking "fight and determination" in their Carabao Cup final defeat by City, a suggestion dismissed by the Arsenal manager after the victory in the San Siro.

"People forget that to get to a cup final in England, you need mental resources and you need mental qualities," said Wenger.

"We lost against a team who are dominating English football at the moment. We have to accept that, it doesn't mean that the team has no spirit."