Arsene Wenger watched Arsenal ease to a 2-0 victory over AC Milan at San Siro and now wants the win to give belief back to his beleaguered players.
The Gunners travelled to Italy for the first leg of the Europa League last-16 tie on the back of four damaging defeats but goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the 15th minute and Aaron Ramsey on the stroke of half-time secured the victory with the return match to come at the Emirates Stadium next week.
Arsenal’s hopes of returning to the Champions League all but rest on winning this competition, given they are 13 points adrift of the Premier League’s top four so it was a timely display to keep their season alive, with manager Wenger hopeful the result can lift some of the negativity affecting his players.
Asked if the win was just what Arsenal needed, he replied: “Yes, and what we wanted especially.
“At some stage, you need to respond and respond together with a good performance. That’s what we did tonight.
“We have won again but we have not qualified. The result will lift the belief in the team again. When you lose three games in six days, it’s always very difficult.
“We want to keep our focus and finish the job next week. That’s what the target is.
Wenger has admitted in recent weeks that confidence in his squad has been low following the Carabao Cup final defeat to Manchester City.
City also saw off Arsenal in a league meeting while Ostersunds and Brighton have recorded wins over Wenger’s side in that time.
However, the 68-year-old, who has come under fresh scrutiny during the recent run, insists there has always been a desire among his players to turn things around.
“I feel [we still have it],” he added. “That’s what we want to show. That is in front of us and that’s what we want to show, that we have the mental resources and qualities.
“I spoke about the cup final but people forget that to get to the cup final in England, you need mental resources and you need mental qualities.
“We lost against a team who are dominating English football at the moment, and it was unexplainable.
“We have to accept that, it doesn’t mean that the team has no spirit. We all have to show that until the end of the season.”
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