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Wenger expects Arsenal 'strong response'

Reuters , Friday 27 Feb 2015
Arsene Wenger
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger touches his head as he sits on the bench during the Champions League round of 16 soccer match between Arsenal and AS Monaco at the Emirates Stadium in London, Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015 (Photo: AP)
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Arsenal need to find a "strong response" against Everton in the Premier League on Sunday after their miserable Champions League defeat by AS Monaco, manager Arsene Wenger said.

The Gunners' hopes of reaching the Champions League quarterfinals were shattered by the French side on Wednesday as Monaco romped to a 3-1 victory at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal sit third in the Premier League table, but with a host of clubs closing in on them, Wenger hopes defeat against Monaco will be the catalyst needed to reignite their season.

"You play 55 games a year and you have moments where you are disappointed. We want to finish the season in a strong way," Wenger told a news conference on Friday.

"I expect a strong response in the Premier League because it is a different competition. We have an opportunity to maintain our top-three position.

"There is nobody to blame individually. On the night everything went against us and missing chances was only one characteristic."

Arsenal received vehement criticism from supporters for their performance against Monaco and Wenger said he must accept the flak when the going gets tough.

"We have to live with that," he said. "We are a big club, and that means we are a club that interests many people.

"When you come out of a disappointing game like Wednesday night, you don't expect people to applaud. It is absolutely normal that we get criticised.

"What is hurting is the defeat more than the criticism. I do not say I'm immune to it. I love to win and when I don't win, I'm hurt, of course."

Midfielder Jack Wilshere, who picked up an ankle injury against Manchester United in November, has suffered a setback in his return to action and has undergone minor surgery.

"He had a little surgery on his ankle because it was irritating him a bit but it's a very minor procedure so he will be out for a few days," Wenger said.

"It was planned to be done at the end of the season and because he had an irritation with it we decided to do it now."

Fellow midfielders Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini are "nearly fit" according to Wenger but Mikel Arteta and French defender Mathieu Debuchy are "still a few weeks away".

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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