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Arsene Wenger on Arsenal’s ‘perfect performance’

arsene-wenger-pressArsène Wenger said Arsenal had a “perfect mental and tactical performance” in winning at Olympiacos on Wednesday night,

Olivier Giroud’s first hat-trick for the club gave the Gunners the result they needed to leapfrog their hosts and qualify for the last 16 for the 16th season running. Arsène Wenger’s side had no points after their first two fixtures.

We had a perfect performance on the mental front and the tactical side. I put my focus on staying in the competition. This kind of performance tonight, in a very heated atmosphere, showed we have character. These kinds of performances make the team stronger. I think it’s a fantastic achievement for us.

In the last few weeks, we’ve lost so many players – [Alexis] Sánchez, [Santi] Cazorla … Not many people gave us a chance and we proved we are a real team. We needed a perfect performance, to score without conceding. It’s not easy here because they are a good side.

I think it will make us stronger and strengthen the belief in our squad. We needed something special tonight. We were in escape mode before tonight. Maybe it’s a lucky year for us in the Champions League, you never know.

[Olivier] Giroud’s performance was perfect. He scored with a header, another with a great pass from [Joel] Campbell and then a penalty. He showed skill and character. I always said he has something special on that front and he showed that again today.

Remarkable turnaround by the Gunners in the competition. Arsene Wenger got hammered by the press for resting Cech in an earlier game, a move that cost the Gunners three points and caused Wednesday’s must-win trip to Europe.

But little will be said be the tactical move Wenger made during the first half that turned this game around. Olympiacos were brilliant in the opening 15 minutes, with all the danger coming down the Arsenal right where Bellerin was left exposed two-on-one as Walcott was not tracking back to help out defensively. Wenger switched Walcott and Campbell and with Campbell paying attention to his defensive responsibilities, the Olympiacos attacked fizzed out and Arsenal took control of the game.

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