Arsene Wenger believes the 2-1 loss to city rivals Tottenham Hotspur was a strange affair after his side surrendered the lead due to two defensive lapses while dominating proceedings.
The Gunners started well with Olivier Giroud missing a one on one after some fine defensive work from the Spurs backline and Jenkinson continually marauded up the right wing knocking in dangerous crosses, but Wenger’s side barely tested Hugo Lloris despite their domination in possession and lacked the killer instinct in the final third.
Bale and Lennon’s finishes were against the run of play and were almost identical in terms of the type of through ball and poor marking. While the former’s goal was unlucky for Arsenal with Jenkinson marginally keeping the Welshman onside, but nobody tracked the prolific midfielder or prevented the assist. For the second, new singing Nacho Monreal failed to stick with Lennon as the English international sped through the backline and finished with ease. While the poor marking affected the scoreline prior to halftime, it was the attackers who failed to contribute significantly and lacked the composure and efficiency when presented chances.
Wenger said at his post-match conference:
[on the derby] It’s frustrating because we put so much effort in and we lost the game when we were on top of the game. If you watch the game again you will see that at the moment we were 2-0 down we should have been 2-0 up. They had a very difficult start, we were on top of the game, and the 2-0 lead of course gave them the confidence to defend well and that’s what they did for the rest of the game.
It’s very frustrating because we had a great attitude but we come out with no points and as well because we were not efficient in the zones where it matters – at the front and at the back. Also, without being at any moment dominated, the only times Tottenham were dangerous today was on counter-attacks. If you are dominated and they create chance after chance, OK you accept it. But today it was a strange game to lose.
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[on the goals conceded] I will have to see it again, we certainly lacked caution on both goals because there was no pressure on the ball and we didn’t cover.
[on the battle for a top-four place] It will be a massive challenge, massive. I said before the game we couldn’t drop these points today and I maintain that after the game. Especially the way the game went, it is difficult to understand how we can lose games like that.
[on learning lessons at the back] Ideally you don’t concede goals at all. It is frustrating because we had the best defensive record in the league away from home until today. When you go into a big game like that, once you’re 2-0 down you make it difficult for yourself because you have to come out, open yourself up against a team that is good at counter-attacking.
But after in the final 20 minutes it was stop and go, they would foul and stop us from going. They stayed down a lot. We couldn’t get the final flow into the game because it was stop and go always.
[on conceding two goals in quick succession] It happened to us many times this season and only in big games. It’s difficult to say why, there’s no common thing, in all the games there is a different problem. But after you make it difficult for yourself. I cannot fault the attitude or the effort that the team produced, or the spirit the team has shown, but you give yourself a mountain to climb every time in a game of that magnitude.
[on whether he believes Arsenal can finish in the top four] I still think it is possible and we will fight for it, that is for sure.
The Frenchman’s side certainly put the effort in but did not help themselves with their lack of composure in front of goal, and also their slack marking as they were undone with pace on the counter attack – something of a regularity.
I also feel it was not the best starting eleven, with Podolski dropped to allow Ramsey to partner Arteta in the deeper midfield roles which enabled the Gunners to dominate proceedings from the heart of the park. But Wilshere was uncharacteristically slack with his final ball, so perhaps if the Englishman played behind Cazorla who could have occupied the ‘number 10’ position allowing Podolski to start on the wing, then things may have turned out different. Ramsey should have also been substituted for Rosicky, not Jenkinson who is a far better crosser than the Welshman and a natural right back, however it must be said Ramsey had a solid game overall playing deeper.
So where to next? The Gunners have over a week to prepare for the huge clash with Bayern Munich in which they must better the Germans by 2 or more goals before another big tie against Swansea. Their defensive frailties must be sorted, but then again we have been wishing for that most of the season..