‘Dynamic’ Norwich City praised by Wenger
Arsene Wenger insists Norwich City have the Premier League quality to flourish in the top flight.
The Gunners' chief was grateful for Robin van Persie's brace which cancelled out Steve Morison's opener at Carrow Road to maintain Arsenal's recent revival.
Wenger's men are now firmly back in the Champions League race after a dismal start to the new campaign – but the Frenchman admitted his men were made to work all the way by the Canaries.
'We missed some early chances,' he said. 'In the first 20 minutes we had at least three clear-cut opportunities and on top of that we were 1-0 down.
'That made the game difficult against a very dynamic Norwich side who were lively going forward. They have Premier League quality. You have seen that today and they will show that for the rest of the season because that is a very good sign.
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'But with our backs-against-the-wall we did very well again today, like we did at Chelsea. In the second half, once we got to 2-1 we controlled the game well and were never really in trouble. Overall it is a very positive win. The team is growing from game to game, getting stronger and you feel there is some mental strength inside there.'
Wenger was less than impressed with the way Morison overpowered German international Per Mertesacker for City's opener.
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'I must say I was upset with the referee at the time but I will have to check that on the television,' he said. 'I thought that Morison brought him down with his left hand. But I told Per that when you are in England facing goal, maybe in many countries you are safe, but not here. That's what he has learned today.'
Wenger was full of praise for his Dutch maestro, who joined an elite group of strikers alongside Alan Shearer and Thierry Henry to have scored 30 or more Premier League goals in a calendar year. Arsenal's captain has yet to pledge his long term future to the club, but Wenger is confident one of the best in the world will want to remain in north London.
'Van Persie is 28, (Cesc) Fabregas and (Samir) Nasri left at 24. My dream is that Van Persie stays until the end of his career at this club,' he said.
'I will do the maximum I can to try to convince him and I hope I will manage to do that. He has some competitors there but he is one of the best of course. It is always difficult to say he is the only one.
'He is exceptional and he has something that you cannot give to people. Today he finished with a chip on his right foot – and I have never seen a bigger left-footed player than Robin van Persie.
'He always makes the right decisions in a fraction of a second when there is little time available. That makes him exceptional – because we have a very attacking style he is a fantastic finisher, but I would like to give the wingers some credit.'
Wenger's own future was the hot topic in a post-match press conference dominated by reports in the French press he could conceivably leave at the end of the current campaign. Not so, according to the man who has brought three league titles and four FA Cups to the Gunners.
'If you read the interview (in L'Equipe) you will see I said that I have two years on my contract,' he said. 'It was after a conversation with a journalist and he said, 'there is no way that you will ever leave is there?'. I said the only way I would consider it at the end of the season is if I didn't deliver what is expected from me. Then of course if you say you love the club and you are below what people are expecting from you, that is the only way I will consider it.
'For the rest of the time I am personally completely committed to the club and will respect my contract until the end.
'The interview was two or three weeks ago but I maintain that I am committed to this club until the last year – unless I feel that I am not good enough.'