KINGSTON UPON HULL — A proud Arsene Wenger praised his Arsenal side’s response to their “shock” start to the season after they climbed into the Premier League’s top three with a 4-1 rout at Hull.
The Londoners recorded three consecutive league wins for the first time since December as Alexis Sanchez scored twice and Theo Walcott and Granit Xhaka also netted at KCOM Stadium on Saturday.
Confessing his side were not ready for the start of the campaign when they took only a point from their first two matches, Wenger said: “We had a big shock in our first game and I said straight away we faced a mental test to see how we responded to it, and we have responded well.”
Sanchez has six goals in five games against the Tigers and could have claimed a hattrick as regular penalty taker Santi Cazorla looked on, but the Chile forward saw his firsthalf spotkick saved after Hull defender Jake Livermore was sent off
“I have to check on it but Santi was at the head of the list,” Wenger said after seeing his side fail for the second time from four penalty attempts this season.
Wenger refused to criticise Sanchez, adding: “We have three players (takers). Did he not want to, did he (Cazorla) tell Sanchez? I don’t know.”
Wenger singled out England winger Walcott and young forward Alex Iwobi for special praise.
“I started Alex because I’ve seen there is some quality, enough to give him a go,” said Wenger.
“He has a lot in the locker, he’s only 20. He has gained in confidence now and has gained power.”
Asked if this was a big season for Walcott, 27, he added: “He was influential in both halves of the game with the quality of his runs, he is very dangerous.”
Hull have taken one point from three games since opening the season with back-to-back victories.
On-going takeover talks and uncertainty over the future of caretaker manager Mike Phelan have contributed towards the downturn in results for the pre-season relegation favourites, who had pulled it back to 2-1 with a late penalty from Scotland midfielder Robert Snodgrass.
Phelan is leaning towards taking the job, with an announcement expected by the middle of next week.
The former Manchester United assistant has been in charge for almost two months since the departure of Steve Bruce, and he said: “My future is a lot brighter, I think.
“I was offered some terms 48 hours ago and due to this game being quickly upon us I left it alone.
“I’ve now got to read those terms and have a good look at them tomorrow. From there, I’ll have a sit down with the owners to discuss it a little bit further.” — AFP