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  Wednesday, 2 October, 2002, 22:32 GMT 23:32 UK
Silva earns Wenger praise
Sylvain Wiltord congratulates Gilberto Silva after his winning goal against Auxerre
Gilberto scored his third goal of the season
Arsene Wenger says World Cup winner Gilberto Silva had exceeded all expectations after guiding Arsenal to the brink of the Champions League second group stage.

Last week, the Brazilian scored the fastest-ever Champions League goal and found the net again in Auxerre to maintain Arsenal's perfect record in Group A.


It was more of a tactical game, a little bit like chess
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger

The Arsenal boss was particularly impressed with the way Gilberto dominated the game alongside Patrick Vieira in central midfield.

"Frankly, I didn't expect him to score so many goals but when you buy players you sometimes get pleasant surprises," said Wenger of his 4.5m signing.

"But that is one of those surprises, while another is that I didn't expect him to be so good in the air.

"Having seen him play for Brazil, I did not know how often he would get into the box as he has more of a defensive role with his national team."

Wenger also praised his team's defensive display as they showed their developing maturity and patience on their European travels.

"It was more of a tactical game, a little bit like chess but I must give a lot of credit to my team as they know how to win even when it is a little bit less fluent.

"They have that mental strength to know that sometimes you need to be patient.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger
Gilberto Silva's versatility has surprised Wenger

"Both the defence and the defensive midfielders were outstanding even if we were a little bit less fresh physically.

"I thought Pascal Cygan played very well. He was composed, intelligent and had an outstanding game."

The one worrying sight for Arsenal was striker Thierry Henry going off with a hamstring problem.

But Henry maintained that that he could still be fit for Sunday's game against Sunderland.

"I felt my hamstring and decided not to take any risks. I'm hoping to be all right for Sunday," he said.

Wenger described the injury as "very minor".


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