Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger expressed his delight with the performance of debutant Nacho Monreal after the Gunners’ 1-0 win over Stoke at the Emirates Stadium.
The north London club had to wait until the 78th minute to open the scoring, but Wenger was impressed with the Spaniard’s seamless transition – as well as the resilience of Theo Walcott – in the face of a very physical Potters side.
“There’s no better culture shock than Stoke when you come from Spain, because of course they have a very physical game, and I think [Monreal] dealt well with it,” the French manager said after the game.
“The satisfaction is that Monreal had a good start for a player who just arrived yesterday and is in the team today. He had no time to think about it, but overall I felt he got stronger and stronger during the game.”
Walcott had to receive treatment several times in the match, and though Wenger did not feel Stoke were overly aggressive, he was disappointed with the lack of protection given to the 23-year-old.
“I feel overall Theo Walcott got good treatment today,” Wenger said dryly. “But I am very happy because the way he responded to it was with full commitment and desire to impose himself and that’s where you see today that Walcott has become a different player recently and he’s shown that today.”
The Arsenal boss also brushed off any doubts over the legitimacy of his side’s goal, with Lukas Podolski’s deflected free kick initially being ruled out before referee Chris Foy overruled his assistant.
“I haven’t seen it from the bench what happened,” Wenger added. “I thought the linesmen had given offside, I couldn’t see anything else, or maybe somebody from us had handled the ball, that’s all I could think.
“But in fact I have heard that Walcott was offside but he was not interfering with the game, then it’s a normal goal.”