After Arsenal played out an entertaining draw with Manchester City at the Emirates yesterday, manager Arsene Wenger faced the cameras. In a short interview, he addressed the key points of the day. When asked about the team’s performance in one of the big games of the season, this is what he had to say –
I think we produced a game of top quality. It was a game of top quality between two very good teams, played at tremendous pace, especially in the first half.
About how he felt after conceding –
We were unlucky to be 1-0 down in the first half and we did something remarkable to come back and be in a leading position. The only frustrating thing for me is that we didn’t manage to keep the lead and gave a cheap goal away. That’s where we have room for improvement because it was a very encouraging game but the way we conceded the second goal nearly killed our game because we could have lost afterwards – it was just a mental blow. But overall I think it was a top quality game.
When asked about the goals –
It was done by two players who had very good games today; [Alexis] Sanchez and Wilshere. They were rewarded for their performances and took their goals very well.
About the defensive lapses that gave away the goals –
We conceded two goals and I believe we are an offensive team. We go forward a lot but at the moment the back is where we can improve.
On the worrying injury to Debuchy –
Debuchy has a badly sprained ankle. How long will he be out? I don’t know, but it doesn’t look good. People told me they need a bit more time to assess how long he will be out but it’s a bad ankle sprain.
When asked about the top display from Jack Wilshere –
He’s coming back physically to his level where he can be. Unfortunately it takes time to find that fraction of a second where you feel you can make a difference and it’s so important in the modern game to get away from people when you win the ball. It looks like today was the first time he found it on a consistent level through the 90 minutes.
It looks as if Wilshere is finally reaching the potential that Arsene Wenger sees in him. If he continues to perform at the levels he did yesterday, Arsenal fans are sure to be over the moon.
When asked about the refereeing decisions –
Both managers were frustrated because I heard Pellegrini was not happy with some of the decisions of the referee.
And about City’s rough tackling –
All of them? Yes, maybe. In the first half they stopped us from going out on the break by systematically fouling. Even if the referee gave the foul, the yellow card came a bit too late in my opinion to be completely satisfied and get rid of that systematic fouling that stopped us in our game. We had great pace in our game today and they stopped that in an intelligent way. They are a mature team and intelligent but it was not an easy game to referee as well.
Mark Clattenburg came through with the big decisions though, in particular when he correctly adjudged Samir Nasri as offside after the player had put the ball in the net.
On his defensive woes –
You can ask me who I will buy and I can just tell you the transfer market is closed at the moment. But we have Chambers – we bought him for that [defensive cover]; to play centre-back or right-back. Debuchy would have been suspended in Dortmund as it is and Chambers was planned to play instead of him, also we have Bellerin as well who can play there.
On whether there were fouls in the build up to Arsenal’s goals –
I heard that. There were situations where it was a real fight for the ball and we may have fouled, they may have fouled. We made one and they made one again, and the guy came out with the ball. The referee decided to let it go and he let it go. I don’t think it was a vicious game but it was just a committed one. When the players went for the ball, they went in with commitment. I don’t know, we’ll have to watch it again. I don’t think that explains why we scored after because there was a lot to do after that.
When asked about debutant Welbeck’s performance –
He did well. I believe that he needs to develop his link play with our players but that is a bit normal. It’s sad that he couldn’t take his chance but overall every time he had an opportunity to find some space he looked dangerous. There are some things to work on with him to integrate him well into our game but I’m happy with his first game. He was taken off because of cramps.
Welbeck was denied by the post, otherwise that could have been a sublime debut goal for the Englishman. He also had a couple of chances later on, going close with both
Overall, it was a strong performance by Arsenal against the defending champions, who defeated them 6-3 at the Etihad last season. They could have won the game, only a bit of sloppy defending late in the game costing them the two points. It bodes well for the rest of the season if some of the key players keep up the form they have shown lately.