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Arsène Wenger denies that pressure of going top was behind Arsenal defeat

Arsène Wenger is confident Arsenal will numb the pain of their Boxing Day defeat at Southampton within 48 hours.

The game at St Mary’s could have offered Arsenal a chance to go top of thePremier League, but after a poor performance they returned to north London reeling from a shock 4-0 defeat.

Shane Long’s brace complemented an exceptional Cuco Martina half-volley and José Fonte’s header as Southampton ended a six-match winless run in some style.

There is little time for Arsenal to wallow, though, as they take on another south-coast side, Bournemouth, on Monday. Wenger is confident of a positive response at the Emirates Stadium, however.

“I believe what I say to my players is between my players and myself,” he said after the 4-0 defeat at St Mary’s. “These players have fantastic spirit and they can show that in 48 hours.

“We are in a job where we have to respond. We want to respond from disappointments. Unfortunately, there’s no possible career without disappointment. Nobody, not even the best players in the world, can have that. It’s down to how you respond and I trust my players to respond in a very strong way on Monday.”

Wenger will not be taking Bournemouth lightly and praised the promoted side before a match in which Arsenal could again reach the Premier League summit. Leicester do not face Manchester City until Tuesday, but Wenger is not concerned about starting 2016 at the top of the league.

“I said before the game, whether we are one point behind or one point in front it is not too important,” he said. “It is the quality of our performance that counts and we were not good enough to win the game [against Southampton]. We have just to look at that. On the other side, we can’t dwell too much because in 48 hours we play again. We are disappointed and frustrated, but there’s only one way to respond in 48 hours.”

Wenger rejected the former England manager Glenn Hoddle’s belief that the players were affected by the pressure brought by potentially going top, so too the necessity to dip into the transfer market next month.

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The Arsenal manager downplayed speculation linking him with a move for Basle’s Mohamed Elneny and was keen to underline the quality waiting that will be at his disposal after injury.

“That’s always the question you get,” Wenger said. “We have many players who are injured and will come back soon.

“Buy, buy, buy, buy is always the solution that people see. I think it’s true that we couldn’t score, but we conceded goals [against Southampton] and we have enough defenders.”


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