Arsene Wenger has responded to Troy Deeney after the Watford forward accused Arsenal’s players of lacking ‘cojones’.
The Gunners threw away a one-goal lead to lose 2-1 at the weekend meaning the north London club are trailing Premier League leaders Manchester City by nine points.
Deeney came on as a second-half substitute at Vicarage Road and was on the pitch as Tom Cleverley struck the winner for the Hornets in injury time.
After Watford’s win, Deeney told BT Sport: ‘There’s a reason they lost and is wasn’t because of one penalty.
‘I have to watch what I say but… having a bit of cojones, I think the word is. Having a bit of nuts.
‘Whenever I play Arsenal and this is just personal, I go up and I think let me whack the first one, let’s see who wants it.
‘I came on today, I jumped up with [Per] Mertesacker, didn’t even have to jump actually, nod it down, the crowd gets up, and they all just backed off.’
Wenger admitted Deeney’s comments hurt but is confident his players have the character to bounce back.
Asked if the accusation hurt, Wenger replied: ‘Yes but I know who my players really are. In the last seven games we had six wins and one draw.
‘Comments are part of the modern game. I love my players and I trust their strength of character to respond.
‘You can’t question our character. People try and put us down, they always have.
‘Those comments aren’t justified.’