Arsene Wenger has paid tribute to his young Arsenal squad after they secured a 3-1 aggregate win over Udinese to seal a 14th successive season of Champions League football.
Second half goals from Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott, either side of a vital penalty save by Wojciech Szczesny, helped sealed a 2-1 win on the night as the Gunners fought back from 1-0 down at half-time to ease the tension which has been hanging over the red side of North London in recent weeks.
Speaking to ITV after the match the Frenchman reflected: “It’s a relief of course because we didn’t want to go out. I feel pride as well because we had our backs to the wall at half-time and responded very well in the second half. There was only one team on the pitch in the second half
“Wojciech saved the penalty, which was [given] very generously. Overall though we had a great football game tonight.
“Since the beginning of the season when we finished games with eleven players we always won the game.
“Under pressure [this team] can respond with football. They remained calm and composed on the ball and tried to play like we can play. They showed great belief in the way we want to play football.
“There are many questions around our club, if we had gone out tonight it would of course had been much worse for the team to play in a serene way. It was very important tonight, not financially as many people said, but more for the fact we want to play at the top level.”
Asked if the result, and another season of Champions League football, would now result in him spending money in the transfer market, Wenger continued:
“We work very hard on it, I’ve said that many times. We have many players out. The team that played tonight was missing top class players. I think we can be very positive.
“There may be signings, but I cannot give you any name tonight. I cannot lie and say we signed somebody, because it’s not true. We try very hard.”