Arsene Wenger praised his players for matching the physical challenge of Birmingham and keeping their cool as a 3-0 win kept them strongly in the hunt for the Barclays Premier League title.
Goals from Robin van Persie and Samir Nasri plus an own goal from Roger Johnson earned the Gunners a sixth away victory of the season. It was the perfect start to 2011 for Wenger and keeps his third-placed side within two points of the two Manchester clubs, United and City.
Wenger said: "We were aware that we had to match Birmingham physically. We were prepared to face the challenges, physical challenges.We prepared ourselves as well not to lose our game plan, to be calm and to focus on putting the ball down and playing our game."
The Birmingham-Arsenal fixture has been renowned in the past for some explosive incidents and an unpunished challenge from Lee Bowyer on Bacary Sagna could land him in trouble with the Football Association.
But Wenger was delighted that his players let their football do the talking as they completed a double over Alex McLeish's side.
He added: "We had the chances in the first half, got stronger and stronger and in the second half we played an outstanding game.
"We know the importance of winning at places like Birmingham because a draw away from home is not good enough, especially when you see the results of other teams.
"Every time you play away you think a point is a disaster because you lose ground potentially."
Regarding the challenge by Bowyer, Wenger said: "I do not want to talk too much about that because I've not seen any replays yet.
"But in any case I do not want to keep that in my mind because I feel it is more important we focus on the way we want to play football."
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