Following Arsenal’s 3-2 away defeat to Manchester United in the Barclays Premier League, Arsene Wenger faced the media and had very few answers as to why his team so badly underperformed against a severely depleted United side.
The Gunners went two goals down after Marcus Rashford scored a brace which clearly shocked the north London side. Danny Welbeck pulled one goal back before half-time to add to Mesut Ozil’s assist tally but a deflected Ander Herrera shot secured United a third goal which – despite an Ozil strike – ultimately won the game for the Red Devils.
The result has put a massive dent in Arsenal’s title hopes after they managed to claw some ground back on league leaders Leicester City last week but with both the Foxes and Tottenham Hotspur winning this weekend, Wenger’s men have fallen further behind the league and so it is beginning to looking more and more difficult for the Gunners to be able to secure their first league title in over a decade.
Reflecting on the result, the Arsenal manager revealed is frustration at his side’s inability to make the most of their possession, as reported by the official Arsenal website.
I felt that we had a lot of the ball and a lot of possession. We favoured their game plan because we conceded two quick goals and at 2-0 down it is difficult. You have to take a gamble.
I think the biggest regret was we had so much of the ball but we conceded three goals. It is difficult to win away from home after that.
With both Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez being in such poor runs of form recently, a few people were surprised that both were included in the Arsenal line-up, given the importance of the fixture, but Wenger remained adamant that he made the right call.
No because I’m convinced Welbeck, Walcott and Alexis can defend well when it is needed. When you analyse the goals, we lost the ball in our own half for the first one but after that they were just crosses today.
When asked whether his side still have a chance to win the Premier League title, Wenger remained coy, suggesting that his side are more focused on bouncing back, rather than whether they will win the league.
I think they defended well. Every time we could get into the flow they stopped us with little free-kicks in the middle of the park and then we had to play again. On the set pieces, I think we should have done more with the free-kicks we had around the box and from the middle of the park we weren’t dangerous enough.
At one point in the match, Alexis won a free kick after being pushed to the floor by a Manchester United player but the Red Devils’ manager Louis van Gaal was unhappy at the call and seemingly threw himself to the ground to mimic the Chilean international. Wenger chose not to give an opinion on the matter.
You will have to ask him that question. I’m not one to comment on that because after you will say I’m a sore loser and I am.
Given how important a win against United could have been for his side, Wenger attempted to defuse the situation by suggesting that the cost of the United team helped them win the game. Although the Frenchman also admitted his surprise at the ability of United youngster Marcus Rashford.
Let’s not go overboard. They had a few millions on the pitch today. From De Gea to their whole midfield who were experienced. They spent a lot of money on it.
The player who was surprising for me was Rushford because the times we were in the danger was in the box and he could be a surprise for Manchester United from what I have seen today.
Wenger, clearly still rattled by his side’s defeat, refused to explain why his star players were unable to win the game and suggested that they had in fact put in enough effort to have secured a win on another day.
It is difficult to give my assessment after a game like that. I will leave that to you. You are big enough and strong enough to do that.
It was a different game for us. The team put the effort in but we struggled to be dangerous, that is true because they defended well. I will have to analyse the game again.
With the end of the season fast approaching, Wenger confirmed that his side will have to respond to their recent slump quickly and effectively if they are to have any hope of winning the league.
It is still possible. We will have to answer quick and strong.