Arsene Wenger has expressed his disappointment at loosing to Manchester United on Sunday, especially to a set piece.
Van Persie came back to haunt the Gunners again, netting the winner from a Wayne Rooney corner, and the Gunners boss is left to bemoan what could have been a vital point for the Premier League leaders.
Arsenal tried to get their game going after early pressure from the former Champions, however they failed to produce any composure in the box to open up the resilient United defence despite an outstanding display from Bacary Sagna. The Gunners ended the tie with 60% of possession, however they failed to find the cutting edge when they needed it.
The Arsenal boss told Sky Sports:
It is difficult to lose the game the way we did. But overall to sum it up – we conceded a goal to a set-piece and in a big game that can make the difference.
In the first-half we were too nervous and rushed our game too much, and lost too many balls and did not track the ball and on the corner the goal came from one of these balls.
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The second-half we had a real go and played our usual game and we came very, very, very close many times to score, but we have to digest it and come back after the break in a strong way.
The heart was in the game, the desire was there – maybe a bit too much in the first-half.
Although Arsenal retain their lead at the top of the table, they should have been better in possession with a number of high profile players not reproducing their recent form. Much of that could be down to fatigue after what has been a difficult two weeks, however even a point today would have been helpful with majority of their title rivals dropping points.
Wenger was “surprised” to concede from a set-piece, an area the Gunners have improved on dramatically over the past year. Some skeptics could lay the blame on losing Per Mertesacker to illness prior to the game, but Wenger refused to be drawn on the matter.
He responded when asked whether Mertesacker would have made a difference:
You can’t answer that, you will never know.
Overall I believe [Thomas] Vermaelan (who replaced Mertesacker) had a very good game today and he was told only this morning he was coming in, and for me he led the line very well and he was all right.
[on being disappointed at conceding from a corner] Yes, because we have been strong recently on set-pieces and I was surprised that we got caught on the near post.
But we have given a lot this week, at Liverpool, Dortmund and today, and I think a draw would have been fair today.
I tend to agree that the loss of Mertesacker didn’t have an overriding effect on the game. More importantly having Tomas Rosicky out appeared to hamper Arsenal’s creative options with the likes of Ramsey, Cazorla and Ozil having poor games.
Gnabry and Wilshere injected pace and some venom into the Gunners attack when they entered the fray, while Giroud struggled up top. But he failed to receive sufficient support so his lack of goal scoring opportunities can be largely down to that.
Time for Arsenal to regroup and some players to rest up over the international break and start to regain their momentum once again. 6 points from a possible 9 against Liverpool, Dortmund and United is not too bad. Chin up Gooners!