Arsene Wenger faced the media on Tuesday morning and there was plenty to talk about after a difficult weekend.
The Gunners endured a 20 minutes to forget at Anfield, they failed to really get into the game and were easily beaten 5-1 by a rampant Liverpool side.
Wenger knows his side will respond positively ahead of their Premiership tie with Man United, and has put the weekend’s dreadful performance down to an accident, asking the fans to not forget how far they’ve come this season and what a promising position they remain in.
Wenger said on the Liverpool result:
It’s always a disappointment to lose a game. But I think it was an accident because we have been very stable defensively and we have to treat it like that.
We’ve just come back from a 10-game unbeaten run. You cannot consider one game as the trend or the pattern of our season. It’s an accident, not a welcome [one] of course, a very disappointing one but a successful season is decided by how you respond to that.
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We tend always to forget how good we are when we are not successful. It’s important that we remind them [the team] we have done very well until now and we have worked very hard to be in that position.
I love this group of players. They deserve success and I think they will respond in a very positive way.
There were plenty of critics on star signing Mesut Ozil’s performance, however Wenger claims the German knows he produced a bad performance but has stressed he works hard in training and expects a big response from the attacking midfielder.
The Arsenal boss hailed Ozil as ‘an exceptional player’ and believes he is still adapting to the physicality of the Premiership.
Wenger said on Mesut’s form:
He has done well, he is adapting as well to the Premier League – we have seen that before. I wouldn’t like to put too much pressure on him because he has been a top-class player until now. He didn’t have the best of games on Saturday but that can happen. He works very hard to adapt to the physical level of the Premier League and for me he is an exceptional player.
[Criticism] happens but we have to deal with that and he has to deal with that. He has been a professional footballer for long enough to know when your performance on the day is not good enough, you get criticised or questioned. It is normal.
He was like everybody else on Saturday – he was not on a good day and was affected certainly by the fact it was a bit of a shock to be 2-0 down so early. He works very hard in training to improve and there’s nobody really to ostracise from that game, we are all conscious that we were not good enough.
It is understandable that the jury is out on the midfielder, especially with stats suggesting a dip in form (2 assists, no goals in 10 games). However in these 10 games Arsenal have won most of them and he played an integral role assisting others assists and adding a new level of class to the Gunners engine room. There is much more to come from the German international.
Another interesting talking point is the lack of investment during the winter transfer window. Many expected and hoped Wenger would splash some cash and bolster the attacking lineup with a centre forward however an injured 31-year-old central midfielder Kim Kallstrom came in on-loan deflating many Gooners hopes.
Wenger discussed whether he regretted not buying during January’s window:
No, because I don’t believe that on Saturday it was the players we missed in the transfer market who would have saved us. We have been very stable defensively until now and anyway we would not have bought defenders, so I don’t think [after] any defeat you can come out with remarks like that.
What you have to consider is how well we have done until now. We are in a fantastic position with this group of players, so let’s come back to our normal level.
Looking ahead to the tie against Manchester United, Wenger revealed that Yaya Sanogo is the only returning injured player with Aaron Ramsey and Thomas Vermaelen still out. Mathieu Flamini is also serving the last of his three match ban this week.
We have no injuries from Saturday and we have Sanogo available as well. Everybody else should be available for [the United game]. As well there are no comebacks, people like Vermaelen, Ramsey are still out.
Wednesday evenings fixture comes at a perfect time, United are struggling after yet another disappointing result – a 2-2 draw with this season’s strugglers Fulham. For Arsenal it means an excellent chance to rejuvenate their form and confidence with Liverpool and Bayern Munich on the horizon.
The important information that can be gathered from Wenger’s words, are that there are no new injuries ahead of the weekend with Sanogo bolstering the attacking options. Arsenal have little choice but to provide an immediate response against United otherwise their season could go belly-up in the space of a week.