The game against Hull started so well, with a great period of dominance followed by a brilliant Alexis Sanchez goal. But in a reversal that has become all too familiar lately, Arsenal went from cruising at 1-0 up to chasing the game at 2-1 down. A referee error for the first goal and a defensive lapse for the second meant that Arsenal were chasing the game without actually playing poorly; but this game further exposed Arsenal’s frailty in defence and our inability to find that final ball despite dominating possession.
Luckily Welbeck saved us from another home defeat against Hull; the striker scored in injury time to level the scores.
Arsène Wenger spoke to the media after Arsenal’s 2-2 draw and this is what he had to say:
It was a disappointing afternoon because we got a point but we had 80 per cent possession. It is a very disappointing result. We were unlucky with the referee on the first goal but on the second goal we can only blame ourselves. We came out of the dressing room with a lack of focus and gave them the lead straight away. It was difficult. I cannot fault the effort or the heart that we had in the game. The defensive concentration was missing on the second goal and when you make it difficult at that level you cannot give the goals away like that. I think that [we did enough to win].
If you watch the game again you will be surprised that we played better than the result indicates. Even in the last five minutes we had three clear-cut chances on goal. It’s difficult when we play against teams who are physically stronger and organised. It was 10 against 10 in one half and that’s always difficult. This was the kind of game where we couldn’t afford to concede another goal when we came out at 1-1. We know that – we have enough experience to know that and we cannot give a goal away like we did. They had two shots on goal in the whole game. At Chelsea they had three shots on goal in the whole game. We conceded two goals. It’s difficult to score three goals against any team in the world.
Possession is not everything, as has been proven time and time again, and perhaps Wenger needs to realize that. Our passing play is good to watch, but without the final product it is ultimately a waste of time, especially since we seem to concede whenever the opposition have a shot on target.
Wenger also refused to be drawn on whether having another experienced defender in the side would have helped, and clearly blamed the referee for not giving the foul in the build up to the first goal. However, he chose not to criticise his players and praised them for their work rate and dedication in chasing the game till the final whistle.
I think the performance was quite good but we put ourselves in trouble because we gave two goals away. We put our heart and effort in until the last second and I cannot fault the effort, the spirit and the work rate of the team. I’m quite respectful for that.
The first goal is for the referee. The second one is for us and I said that.
Wenger also agreed that the massive 11 point gap between Arsenal and League leaders Chelsea is very worrying and that he was concerned about it.
Of course [it’s a concern]. I cannot say it’s not a concern, it’s a big concern because the other teams have won their games and we haven’t. I cannot say it’s not a big concern.
Based on the form shown in today’s game, Arsenal simply cannot challenge for the title this season. Injuries have hampered our progress, but that has been the case every season for the past few years and the fans are losing their patience with the manager’s refusal to build a deep squad. Either way, credit to Hull City for a good game and hopefully when Arteta, Ramsey and Walcott return to full fitness the team will get energised and start winning these games.