Arsenal 2 Wolves 0: Wenger puts value on Gunners’ display as well as outcome

Arsene Wenger believes a strong performance on Saturday against the bottom team in the Barclays Premier League was important for Arsenal’s preparations to face the top team in the world.

Wolves and Barcelona could hardly offer more disparate challenges, with the former propping up the rest of the league after a win that did little to accurately portray the gulf between the sides.

Wednesday’s Champions League opponents Barcelona, on the other hand, are rated by Gunners boss Wenger as the best club side around.

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Nevertheless he thinks the way his players – notably two-goal match-winner Robin van Persie, the excellent Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott – went about their business at Emirates bodes well.

With Barca looming large on the horizon and the four-goal turnaround at Newcastle seven days earlier also fresh in the memory, there were plenty of potential distractions.

“We had to stay focused, it was important to win,” Wenger said.

“We play certainly the best team in the world next so it is important to go in strong psychologically, with confidence and in a strong position in the league.

“We are in the Premier League race, we believe we can do it and we have the hunger. We must focus on every single game and it was important they showed me they can focus and not have Barcelona on their mind.

“We created a lot of chances and my only regret is that we did not score more goals.”

Wenger thinks his side learned important lessons last season when they were knocked out of Europe in the quarter-finals by Barca. They drew 2-2 in London before a 4-1 defeat at the Nou Camp sealed their fate and this time Wenger believes it can be different.

“When you play a team like Barcelona you need all 11 to be at their best,” he continued. “For us it is important we play with belief.

“What we have learned from last season is in the first half we gave them too much respect, we were lucky to get away with that (in the home leg).

“We are not favourites in this game but I think we can do it.”

It is an opinion no doubt shared by Wolves manager Mick McCarthy, who was in awe of Arsenal’s dismantling of his side.

The same Wolves XI had ended table-toppers Manchester United’s 29-game unbeaten league run a week earlier but never looked like springing another surprise, something McCarthy was quick to admit.

“There was a murder going on there and we could do nothing about it,” he said.

“They’ve murdered us. All over the park from one to 11 they were better than us, stronger than us, quicker than us, passed it better than us.

“I don’t want to get beaten but I have to admire the way they play and the class they have.

“We have been done but I admire the way they play and aspire to that level of performance.”

He added: “We weren’t good enough. They were better than us. They slapped us.

“I’m disappointed we lost but I can’t say we were unlucky because, but for Wayne Hennessey it could have been six, seven or eight goals. They were different class and to get better we have to acknowledge that and admire that performance by Arsenal.”