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Arsene Wenger encouraged by resilient North London Derby performance from injury-riddled squad


Arsene Wenger believes the way Arsenal’s depleted squad battled back to secure a 1-1 draw in the North London Derby showed they have the character needed to mount a sustained Barclays Premier League challenge this season. The Gunners, thumped 5-1 away to Bayern Munich in their midweek Champions League tie, missed the chance to head into the international break top of the table and capitalize on Manchester City’s goalless draw at Aston Villa earlier on Sunday.

Tottenham had the better of the first half at the Emirates Stadium as England forward Harry Kane continued his resurgence with a neat finish after punishing a high defensive line. However, the Gunners — missing the likes of Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Hector Bellerin, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck to injury — eventually leveled when substitute Kieran Gibbs, the fullback sent on as a makeshift winger, bundled in his first league goal since March 2012 on 77 minutes to set up a grandstand finale.

SEE MORE: What Chelsea must so to finish fourth in the Premier League.

While Wenger’s side could not conjure up a winner and remain level on points with City, the Arsenal boss is in no doubt of what the impact of such a performance can be over the coming months.

“We have shown character because we were a bit on the ropes and we responded,” said Wenger, who revealed midfielder Santi Cazorla had been suffering from dizziness during the first half and had to be substituted during the interval.

“When you look at Sunday’s results again you see Villa against City is 0-0, Liverpool lost, we played a 1-1 draw – it just shows you that the championship will be extremely difficult for everybody.

“The mental qualities can have a big influence in the future and I think we need these qualities.”

Wenger added:

“This was a very intense game with complete commitment from both sides. The team have shown great mental resource, we refused to give up.

“When you are 1-0 down, it is a mixture of relief and regret because if we were really clinical we would have won it in the last 15 minutes.

“(Olivier) Giroud had the chances to score, but if I try to be fair I must say the point is maybe a fair result.”

Despite the frustration of not taking maximum points, Arsenal remain in solid Premier League form with five wins and a draw.

“Overall I am disappointed that we haven’t won the game, but if you look at the recent period as a block it can happen that in six games you can drop points,” Wenger said.

Tottenham, meanwhile, continue to make progress under Mauricio Pochettino, whose side are within three points of the top four having gone unbeaten in the league since the opening day.

“We are very happy with the way our philosophy is developing and this was a good example to show the belief in the way we want to play,” Pochettino said. “From that, our supporters can be very proud.

“It is important not to set a limit. We are ambitious people and always think about winning the next game, but the end of the season is far away.”

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