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Wenger impressed by Eboue's revival

sports Updated: Sep 20, 2009 12:43 IST
AFP
eurosoccer2009

Arsene Wenger is tipping Emmanuel Eboue to blossom into one of Arsenal's key players after the Ivory Coast star finally erased the memory of his Wigan nightmare.

Eboue endured the humiliation of being jeered by his own supporters against the Latics at the Emirates Stadium in December and was later substituted - despite only coming on as a sub himself - during the match to avoid any further damange to his dwindling confidence.

That might have been the end of Eboue's Arsenal career but he continued to fight for his place and looked a reinvigorated character at the Emirates on Saturday as he scored in the Gunners' 4-0 win over the same Wigan opponents.

Belgium defender Thomas Vermaelen scored twice before Eboue deflected in Eduardo's shot. Spain international Cesc Fabregas notched a fourth in stoppage time to complete the emphatic win.

Eboue, 26, is now enjoying a more advanced roll in the Arsenal side and Wenger is confident the midfielder is beginning to show his promise.

"I believe Eboue did what you have to do in our job, which is to shut up, play and let everyone else talk while he produces quality performances," Wenger said.

"This is a job for strong people and you can respond mentally. The supporters are behind him again as he plays well and he plays with the right spirit.

"He is a sensitive boy and an extrovert, but he's a creative player. He plays in the position at the start as a defender, but he's a creative player.

"That's why I used him in midfield. I thought he had good acceleration, good dribbling skills and is creative.

"He was nervous at first but age will help. He will get less excited and will become better in the final third. He shows that now.

"If we play against a team with no midfield players on the flank and we want to go forward I see him as a full-back. If you play with a winger you play more with a typical full-back like Bacary Sagna."

Eboue was booked in the first-half for trying to punch the ball past Chris Kirkland but Wenger does not believe he should be dragged over the coals.

He added: "Eboue deserved a yellow card, yes. Of course we want to stamp out cheating in the game.

"It is not necessarily cheating sometimes, it (the handball) can be a reflex as well. I do not encourage cheating and we all have to fight against it."

Vermaelen has made an astonishing start to his career at Arsenal following his close-season move from Ajax and Wenger even admits it has caught him by surprise.

The 23-year-old's two goals against Wigan have made him the club's top goal scorer.

Wenger added: "I thought he could adapt quickly but maybe not as quickly as that. I certainly did not think he would be our top scorer.

"What is good since the beginning of the season is that we score goals, many goals.

"It's good for the confidence of the team that we didn't concede. I believe it's a price to pay for our style of play. I think we'll be more solid when we get used completely to the way we want to play."

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez admitted his side were well below par and need to find a way from freezing against the top Premier League sides.

He said: "I cannot not take any positives from the performance. Our record against the big four clubs is now 34 games and we have never beaten them.

"We were not brave enough to be ourselves and that was our biggest lesson.

"There were also key moments. The first goal we conceded was a soft goal and we needed a little bit of luck to get back into the game.

"But overall those are very low excuses for me. It was a very poor performance. You have to make sure you are arrogant enough to challenge in the Premier League."

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