Arsenal must maintain improvement: Wenger

Arsenal's Theo Walcott (right) celebrating with Hector Bellerin after scoring in the 3-1 Premier League win over Stoke City. The Gunners are on a run of three successive victories in all competitions.
Arsenal's Theo Walcott (right) celebrating with Hector Bellerin after scoring in the 3-1 Premier League win over Stoke City. The Gunners are on a run of three successive victories in all competitions.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

LONDON • Five goals the previous weekend, four goals on Tuesday, three goals on Saturday. Arsenal have lifted off and were first in the Premier League on Saturday following their 3-1 win over Stoke City.

The Gunners came from behind to beat Stoke at the Emirates Stadium with a performance less electric but just as efficient as those in which they put nine goals past West Ham and Basel.

"It's very difficult to win when everyone expects you to win," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said.

"Last season, we did well against the top teams at home, but dropped points to mid-table ones. We have improved but we have to maintain it in the long term."

Charlie Adam put Stoke ahead from the penalty spot after Granit Xhaka fouled Joe Allen but Arsenal recovered through Theo Walcott, Mesut Ozil and Alex Iwobi.

The manner in which Arsenal held their nerve to secure the victory confirmed to Wenger that his team are growing increasingly resilient.

"We finished second in the league last year but I believe we have improved," Wenger said.

"I think we are ambitious but what is at stake is to keep urgency levels very high, humility levels very high and togetherness very high.

"We have to show that in every single game now. Then we will see where we stand."

With little to separate the title contenders , Wenger is intrigued to see if Arsenal can make the most of their impressive form and win the Premier League for the first time since 2004.

"At the minute, there is no difference with the other teams, but we are in there at the top. So that's good - we are in the fight," the Frenchman added.

Despite the defeat by Arsenal, Stoke manager Mark Hughes believes there were positives for his side to take ahead of a run of games that includes meetings with Chelsea and Liverpool.

"Arsenal are an exceptional side and a lot of teams have suffered at their hands," Hughes said.

"I thought we gave a good account of ourselves... we will take the positives out of it."

THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 12, 2016, with the headline 'Arsenal must maintain improvement: Wenger'. Print Edition | Subscribe