Wenger laments ‘soft’ Gunners


Published: Saturday 6th December 2014 by The News Editor

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Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger accused his side of being too soft as they once again came unstuck against Stoke at the Britannia Stadium.

The Gunners have won only one of their last nine games at the home of the Potters and saw a run of three straight victories end in a frenetic 3-2 Barclays Premier League defeat.

Wenger said: “Stoke started strong and we were not decisive enough in our defensive challenges.

“It gave them an early good present and after that they put a lot of energy into the game. In the second half we had good opportunities to come back and we couldn’t.

“I think we were a bit inexperienced at the back – we couldn’t play (Laurent) Koscielny or (Nacho) Monreal and we were altogether maybe a bit soft to cope with what they offered us.”

In the past Wenger has been highly critical of Stoke’s style of play – one of the reasons there is such an edge to games between the sides.

But he could have had little complaint after seeing his team outplayed in the first half, with Peter Crouch netting the fastest goal of the Premier League season just 19 seconds into the match.

The outstanding Bojan Krkic added a second in the 35th minute and Jonathan Walters slammed home a third just before half-time – a goal Wenger felt should have been chalked off for a foul by Crouch.

Stoke thought they had scored a fourth in the 65th minute but Bojan’s effort was belatedly ruled out when referee Anthony Taylor ruled Mame Biram Diouf had blocked goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez’s view from an offside position.

That provided Arsenal with the moment of fortune they needed and within five minutes it was 3-2, Santi Cazorla scoring a penalty before Aaron Ramsey grabbed a second.

Arsenal pushed for an equaliser but their cause was not helped when Calum Chambers was sent off 12 minutes from time, picking up a second yellow card for pulling Bojan.

“It was a bad decision,” said Wenger. “If Chambers has to go off today, I can find five more players that should go off.”

The Frenchman did not name names but talked about “players who put arms and elbows in faces”.

Stoke fans love nothing more than taunting Wenger, but they were denied the chance to mimic the Arsenal manager’s gestures on the touchline because he stayed seated in the dugout throughout the match.

That chant from the home supporters was that Wenger was “too scared to stand up”, and the Gunners boss admitted, albeit with tongue in cheek, that there was a certain truth to that.

“There is one single reason,” he said. “They love me so much. I didn’t want to give them an opportunity to show me their love.”

Stoke went into the game on the back of three straight defeats, the last two against Liverpool and Manchester United.

Manager Mark Hughes felt his side had deserved more so was delighted they managed to secure all three points against Arsenal.

He said: “We’ve been disappointed in recent weeks. That’s why I was looking forward to this game because we weren’t playing badly and we felt there were opportunities today to test Arsenal and that’s what we did.

“We were encouraged by the early goal, obviously. You don’t expect to score after 20 seconds.

“From that point onwards I thought our play was good, and it was an outstanding second goal by Bojan, who once again has put in a really impressive performance. Since he’s come back into the side, he’s arguably been our man of the match in every game.

“Three-nil at half-time doesn’t happen very often, certainly not to me anyway, so I was delighted with that. But we had the scars of the West Ham game, where we raced to a 2-0 lead and let it slip, so we used that as a reminder at half-time.

“It should have been 4-0, I’m really disappointed with the decision of the referee to chalk off an outstanding individual goal by Bojan.

“By all accounts he’s said Diouf was interfering with play. We had a similar situation when we conceded a second goal at Old Trafford, so there’s inconsistency there.

“Those things are big decisions and need to be correctly called. That puts a spring in their step and all of a sudden we’re looking at 3-2 and we’re hanging on when the game should have been dead and buried.

“But we got ourselves together and for the most part saw it out quite comfortably.”

Published: Saturday 6th December 2014 by The News Editor

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