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Page last updated at 07:57 GMT, Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Win steadies ship, states Wenger

Arsene Wenger
Wenger says he has endured one of his most difficult times at the club

Arsene Wenger says the Champions League win over Dynamo Kiev that sent Arsenal into the knockout stages was what the club needed after the recent turmoil.

This month the Gunners have lost three Premier League games and William Gallas was stripped of the captaincy after publicly criticising his team-mates.

"It was what we need, reassurance, and will give us that," said boss Wenger.

"We left it late. It was more a steady than spectacular performance but it was important to win the game."

Nicklas Bendtner's 87th-minute goal gave the Gunners a 1-0 win against Kiev on Tuesday and afterwards Wenger paid particular tribute to Gallas for his contribution.

"William's focus was great. He wanted to do well and was completely committed," he stated.

"Our fans also know he was a committed captain and responded well to him."

Wenger had dropped Gallas for Saturday's 3-0 Premier League defeat by Manchester City as part of the 31-year-old's punishment for speaking out about his team-mates.

However, the Arsenal boss told French television channel Canal+ that he believed Gallas had been the victim of a "witch-hunt".

He said of his decision to strip Gallas of the captaincy and give it to Cesc Fabregas: "It was based neither on the man himself nor his quality as a player but more on his blunder.

"He didn't intend to be malicious but it put his team under enormous pressure. He will remain himself and it can free him as a player if there is less pressure.

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"It was a witch-hunt and everything that he did, even when it was good, was bad. In these conditions, the player had no chance."

Wenger was also delighted with the performance of Fabregas.

"He was very good for me. Focused for 90 minutes in the game, worked hard defensively and offensively," he added.

"It was not easy in midfield because they closed us down very well. I expected them to drop a little bit in the second half but they didn't."

Dynamo were angry after Bendtner's late winner, feeling there was confusion over whether it was a drop ball or a free-kick that allowed Fabregas to set up the goal - and also claiming the striker handled the ball.

But Wenger insisted: "It was a great goal. It is not handball. Watch it on the replay. He did not take it with his arm like they complained.

"A fantastic ball first from Fabregas, good control and a fine finish. I'm very happy for Bendtner. He was a bit disturbed recently with a lack of confidence but that will help give him confidence."



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see also
Arsenal 1-0 Dynamo Kiev
25 Nov 08 |  Europe
Champions League as it happened
25 Nov 08 |  Europe
Champions League photos
25 Nov 08 |  Football


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