Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger blamed his side’s poor finishing as the main reason as to why the Gunners were unable to beat Hull this weekend in the FA Cup. The sides have faced each other in the last two seasons in the competition – with Wenger’s men going on to win it on both occasions.
The Gunners battered the Championship leaders for the majority of the game but were unable to find the breakthrough goal, meaning that a replay will have to be played in order to decide the tie.
Following the game, Wenger spoke to the media, as reported by the club’s official website, and argued that his side lacked unity in the final third, as if his players were trying to do too much of the work on their own.
Because Hull defended well, because their ‘keeper played well, because our final ball was maybe not good enough and because when we could give the ball in the final third, we decided [to go for] an individual solution.
Hull ‘keeper Eldin Jakupovic had an outstanding game between the sticks for Steve Bruce’s side and was arguably the Tigers’ best player. However, Wenger believes that his side are as much to blame as Jakupovic for not scoring in the fixture.
The goalkeeper did well of course, but we had maybe 70 per cent possession and more than 20 shots on goal, and we didn’t score. We have to look at ourselves as well, even if you can give credit to their ‘keeper.
Despite having to take on Hull in a replay later in the season, Wenger remained pleased with the fact that his side were not dumped out of the competition and so are still in a position where they can progress.
The nightmare would have been to go out. The frustration is that we didn’t score and it’s not what we wanted, to have a replay, but between that and going out, we choose the replay. I am happy for the replay [as opposed to going out].
We need to be more efficient in the final third, because today we had more than 70 per cent possession and we will not have that on Tuesday night. That means we’ll have to be more efficient with much less of the ball.
With the first-leg of the Gunners’ UEFA champions League knockout tie with Barcelona only days away, Wenger argued that the team he picked to face Hull were more than good enough to have secured the win, even with the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil being rested.
I played a team that, in my opinion, had the quality to win the game today. The Barcelona game was not in my mind today. I rested Ramsey and Ozil completely, because they’ve played many games since the start of the season. When I can do it, I do it. Mesut Ozil was a bit sick over the week, so I decided to leave him out completely. Ramsey has played many games, so that’s why I kept him out.
Some people felt that the game was not being taken seriously, given the fact that both sides had been heavily rotated, but the Frenchman suggested that the side he picked had a good blend of both internationals and youngsters.
A shame? No, because that would mean that the players in the squad are not good enough, which I don’t think [is true]. If you look at the players that played in our team, Ospina, Chambers, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, they are all internationals, [as are] Elneny, Flamini, then yes, Iwobi. People want you to give a chance to young players. When you play them, they say ‘it’s a shame’.
Up front we had Walcott, Welbeck and Campbell, all internationals. People always want you to buy more and more players. When you play them, they say ‘why did you play them?’ I think the team was of quality and that’s not an excuse.
On being asked whether the replay would affect any future team selections, Wenger said that barring injuries, his team will be able to cope with the extra fixture.
If we don’t have injuries, I think we can cope with it. If we get two or three injuries, then it will be much more difficult for us.
Mesut Ozil was absent from this weekend’s game, but Wenger made assurances that the German would be fine for the Gunners’ next game.
Yes. A cold. It’s nothing major.
As for the rest of the squad, Wenger had no real concerns and was pleased that Welbeck made his first start for the team in 10 months.
No, from today I believe the positive of the day is that Welbeck came through quite well. He started for the first time in 10 months and he was one of the positives of the day.
Wenger was seen as slightly too calm given his side’s disappointing draw with, but the Arsenal manager argued that it did not matter how he appeared on the outside, the result of the game would not change.
I am not as relaxed as I look! Honestly, [if I were] nervous or angry, it wouldn’t change the result. I would be if it would change the result. It’s not what we planned but in football it doesn’t always go like that. It’s how you respond and how you find the solution to what we face now. It means we have to go to Hull and we have to qualify.
Wenger also explained his pre-match comments regarding the English formatting surrounding replays, as well as explaining that he doesn’t know when the replay will take place yet.
No, I said I like the English formula because it’s a little bit special. I like the idea that in England you don’t do things like anywhere else. That’s why you negotiate in Brussels at the moment as well!
I don’t know [when the replay will be]. We’re not sure.
Looking ahead to the Barcelona game in the Champions League, Wenger admits that he knows that his side will be the underdog in the fixture and so is determined that his side will make the most of their possession against the Spanish club so that his team can pull off a good result.
I was excited about the game today but of course, it’s an exciting game. We were the favourites today but we won’t be on Tuesday night. On Tuesday night, we’ll need great solidarity because we’ll need to defend well, and make the maximum of our possession, which we didn’t do today. “Of course we’ll try to win this game. I want to go home now because they play at 5.30 and I want to watch it.