Arsenal alive after win over Tottenham - Arsene Wenger

By Phil McNultyChief football writer, BBC Sport

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger claimed Arsenal were "alive more than anybody thought" after their crushing win over Tottenham in the north London derby.

Arsenal came from two goals down to run out emphatic 5-2 victors and give Wenger renewed optimism they can finish in the Premier League's top four.

Wenger said: "Arsenal is alive more than anybody thought before the game.

"That performance, and the style of the game we want to play, was perfect despite a very bad start."

Louis Saha's goal and a penalty from Emmanuel Adebayor put Spurs in command, but Bacary Sagna and Robin van Persie levelled before the interval.

Tomas Rosicky put the Gunners ahead after the break and two quick goals from Theo Walcott completed the scoring and boosted Arsenal's hopes of clinching a place in next season's Champions League.

"Tottenham started well for five minutes but, for the rest of the 85 minutes, it was all us," Wenger said. "Once we came back to 2-2 you could see, if we maintained the pace of the game, we would win.

"We had a great spirit but I must say as well that the way we want to play football depends on the quality of the pitch and it is the first time in three games that we have played on a pitch that is a real football pitch. That helped."

Wenger explained his decision to persist with Walcott, who made a crucial contribution, despite suffering heavy criticism from his own supporters as he struggled in the first half.

"The crowd was starting to get on his back," said Wenger. "But I felt nobody else has the quality like he has. He is a very direct player and I felt it was important to keep him in the side."

Arsenal scored five goals in 27 minutes - a feat they will have to repeat in goalscoring terms at least if they are to recover from a 4-0 defeat against AC Milan in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

"We will try," said Wenger. "Unfortunately for us it is an international week and a lot of our players are away this week before an important game at Liverpool."