Arsene Wenger: Arsenal answer defensive doubts at Man City

'Exceptional' Arsenal please Wenger

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger says victory over Manchester City has answered doubts about their defence and ability to beat top clubs away from home.

Goals from Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud gave Arsenal a 2-0 win at City in contrast to last season's 6-3 loss.

"I am very pleased because our defence have been questioned a lot," Wenger, 65, told BBC Radio 5 live.

"The target was to put it right, and to win a big game away in the league which we've not done this season."

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Trevor Sinclair: "At Etihad Stadium on Sunday, it seemed that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger finally realised he cannot play his usual open style of attacking football when his team are away from home against the best teams in the Premier League. Instead, the Gunners were set up to defend and keep a clean sheet. Right from the start, there were times when all 11 of their players were defending deep in City's half."
Read more: 'Arsenal put defence first, at last'

The win lifted Arsenal to fifth in the table, a point off the Champions League places, but damaged Manchester City's title push and they now sit five points behind leaders Chelsea, who they meet at Stamford Bridge on 31 January.

Wenger praised a "great unity, solidarity, togetherness and compactness in our team", as Arsenal recorded a seventh clean sheet in 22 league outings this season.

Chelsea by comparison have shut out opponents 11 times but Wenger was pleased with his side's defensive display after calling his backline too soft following defeat at Stoke in December.

A rare win for Arsenal
This win took the Gunners' tally to just 10 points from a possible 51 against Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City in recent seasons.

"People are very quick on their judgement and forget that we had many defenders out all season," added Wenger, who used Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny at central defenders.

"As you saw the centre-backs are a good partnership and it takes time to get back to that level. To come out of a game like that without conceding a goal is important."

Santi Cazorla

Arsenal had just 35% of the ball at the Etihad but inspired by the impressive Cazorla - who has now played every minute of the last 10 league games - punished City.

Cazorla, 30, created Giroud's goal after his penalty and completed 92% of his passes.

"Since Cazorla plays centrally, he is at a level of his career where he can have more influence," added Wenger.

"He is fantastic because he gets you out of pressure in tight situations. He shows you how important it is to be two-footed in the middle of the park. He passionately loves the game."