Troy Deeney highlighted what’s wrong at Arsenal after he scored the equaliser for Watford in their eventual 2-1 win over the north London side last Saturday.
“Having a bit of cojones, I think the word is,” Deeney told BT Sport. “Whenever I play against Arsenal – and this is just a personal thing – I go up and think ‘let me whack the first one, then we will see who wants it.’
“I came on today and jumped up with [Per] Mertesacker – I didn't even have to jump up actually – nodded it down and the crowd gets up. They all just backed off.”
It was a pretty damning indictment of an Arsenal side that many would say have lacked ‘cojones’ since the days of Patrick Vieira.
The problem for Arsenal was which player would respond to Deeney’s comments.
It certainly wouldn’t be Alexis Sanchez or Mesut Ozil. Per Mertesacker was asked to comment but he simply replied: “I don’t know what he said. I don’t play attention.”
Wilshere: We don't need to prove anything to Deeney
And so up stepped Jack Wilshere to deliver a response all Arsenal fans appreciated.
"This is football, and the way football is, people talk. He's entitled to his opinion, but as a team I don't think you can ever question our character," Wilshere said on BT Sport.
"We don't need to prove anything to Troy Deeney, we need to prove to the fans because they have been brilliant and the boss because he puts his faith in us as players and I'm sure we will.
"We know we have great ability and great character as well, we just need to show that now."
Wilshere's Instagram post after Red Star win
Arsenal’s character would be tested against Red Star Belgrade in the Europa League on Thursday.
In front of a rowdy home crowd, Wenger named a weakened side that included youngsters Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
The Gunners didn’t look entirely convincing, managing a 1-0 win thanks to Olivier Giroud’s stunning goal in the 85th minute.
And Wilshere, who played a huge part in Giroud’s winner, sent another message to Deeney following the win.
“Great character, I told you we have some 😜 another 3 points at a difficult place. Shout out to the fans who travelled over, unbelievable support! 💙👊,” Wilshere wrote.
Tougher challenges await Arsenal, but it’s at least pleasing to see them grind out a result.