Arsene Wenger believes Troy Deeney's comments that his Arsenal team lack character are without justification.
Watford striker Deeney came off the bench and equalised with a penalty before Tom Cleverley secured a 2-1 comeback win for Marco Silva's side over the Gunners in the Premier League on Saturday.
Referee Neil Swarbrick's decision to award a spot-kick when Richarlison went down under a challenge from Hector Bellerin angered Wenger but Deeney mocked the Frenchman for making excuses.
"Well, I'm not going to be one to tell Mr Wenger about himself, but there's a reason that they lost and it wasn't because of one penalty," he told BT Sport
"I have to watch what I say, but it's [having] a bit of cojones, is what I'll say. Whenever I play against Arsenal, I'll go up and think 'let me whack the first one and see who wants it.'"
Speaking at a news conference ahead of Thursday's Europa League game against Red Star Belgrade, Wenger pointed at Arsenal's form before the Vicarage Road setback to defend his players.
"Everyone is entitled to talk," he said. "We don't listen to what people say – we try to analyse or own game.
"I love my players and I trust their strength of character to respond quickly. 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.
"You can't question our character. People try and put us down, they always have. Those comments aren't justified."
If the flaws Deeney identifies are a part of Arsenal's make-up, they will be placed under the microscope when 50,000 fans in Belgrade give Wenger's men a hostile reception.
"I don't think it will have a negative impact," Wenger said of the expected atmosphere.
"We are of course in a country with a tremendous football tradition so we expect a game with huge commitment from everybody.
"The support of the team always has a positive impact. We can deal with that – we have long experience in the Champions League."
Wenger confirmed Mathieu Debuchy will make his first start for almost a year against Red Star, while Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere are also set to come in.
Teenage forward Josh Dasilva could make his full debut, while Wenger refused to rule out retaining regular number one Petr Cech in goal, having plumped for David Ospina in the opening wins in the competition over Cologne and BATE.
Red Star lie second in Group H on four points.
|Premier League ´interesting´ for Germany boss Low|
|Wilder wins Twitter vote to be Joshua´s next opponent|
|BREAKING NEWS: Isco an El Derbi doubt due to appendicitis|
|Juventus won´t rest Ronaldo ahead of Napoli clash|
|Slater cleared to play in NRL Grand Final|
|Top seed Begu sent packing in Tashkent|
|This isn´t my last hurrah in Ryder Cup, insists Poulter|
|Barba back in NRL with North Queensland Cowboys|
|Arsenal wait on Mkhitaryan and Sokratis|
|All Blacks wary of Pumas pack ahead of Buenos Aires Test|
|Ryder Cup has special place in Pep Guardiola´s heart, says Fleetwood|
|Mbappe ready to take over from Messi and Ronaldo, says Trezeguet|
|Molinari: Ryder Cup pressure far outweighs any major|
|Koepka heads PGA Tour´s Player of the Year nominations|
|Lampard: Mourinho still a great manager|
|United States and Europe reveal Ryder Cup practice groupings|
|Bulldogs´ fine for ´Mad Monday´ antics halved|
|Bennett to leave Broncos after 2019 NRL campaign|
|American League postseason picture becomes clear|
|Steelers edge Buccaneers for first win|
|Gatland wants Webb available for World Cup|
|Modric: Ronaldo, Messi out of this world but my season deserved recognition|
|Love says Cavs ´will surprise a lot of people´|
|George believes Thunder can compete for championship this season|
|Messi is the greatest ever – Eto´o|
|Messi to miss Argentina´s upcoming friendlies|
|Dolphins say Hayes tore ACL attempting to avoid roughing-the-passer penalty|
|Modric deserved FIFA Best award – Ramos|
|Thibodeau open to potential Butler trade|
|Modric wanted Ronaldo, Messi at awards ceremony|
|Brewers´ Yelich active after elbow hit|
|Anthony on coming off Rockets´ bench: Whatever I have to do to help this team win|
|Raiders coach Gruden says Mack trade was hard on players|
|Bale lauds ´unbelievable´ Modric after FIFA Best triumph|
|Ronaldo, Messi lacked respect with FIFA Best awards snub - Capello|
|New Zealand the benchmark but England can win World Cup - Mitchell|
|FIFA Best Award a dream come true for Modric|
|Lakers a long way from Warriors, warns LeBron|
|Milner pokes fun at Salah´s Puskas Award win|
|Josh Rosen to replace Sam Bradford as Cardinals starting quarterback|
|Kaymer: Home-course advantage crucial to Europe hopes|
|Marta and Pedros win FIFA Best awards|
|I want to be in Toronto - Kawhi Leonard focused on Raptors, not future|
|Messi and Ronaldo lead FIFPro World XI as Salah and Neymar miss out|
|Knicks´ Kristaps Porzingis ´itchy´ to return but won´t commit to 2018-19 season|
|Modric beats Ronaldo and Salah to FIFA Best prize|
|49ers confirm ACL tear for QB Garoppolo|
|Salah beats Bale and Ronaldo to Puskas Award|
|Deschamps wins FIFA Best Men´s Coach award|
|Law to leave Windies for Middlesex role|
|Sunderland terminate Ndong´s contract|
|Spalletti warns rejuvenated Inter against complacency|
|Ryder Cup 2018: Figo in town as USA arrive in style|
|Browns name Baker Mayfield starting QB|
|Chelsea need to be more versatile, warns Giroud|
|Paris Saint-Germain FFP case referred by UEFA back to CFCB Investigatory Chamber|
|Busy Bertens ready for bed, Muguruza gains Wimbledon revenge|
|Hart ready if England come calling - Dyche|
|Ryder Cup 2018: An honour and a burden - the unique challenge of captaincy|
|Hibino beats Bouchard again at the Tashkent Open|
|Falcons lose Ricardo Allen for season|
|Mbappe three-match ban stands following appeal|
|Tomic wins first Tour-level match since Wimbledon in Chengdu|
|Ryder Cup diary: Scoreboard shocker, captains tight-lipped|
|Mourinho will spawn lots of managers - Lampard|
|Furyk outlines Woods´ Ryder Cup motivation|
|Tiger doesn´t scare Team Europe - Bjorn|
|Ryder Cup 2018: Team USA profile|
|Woods winning ´incredibly special for golf´, says Poulter|
|Grealish commits to Aston Villa with five-year deal|