Arsenal slip-ups a worry for Wenger

Arsenal
manager
Arsene
Wenger has
said his
players do not
currently
possess the
ruthlessness
to challenge Chelsea and
Manchester City for the Premier
League title.
The Gunners were held to a 2-2
draw at home to Hull City on
Saturday and required a
stoppage-time equaliser from
England forward Danny Welbeck
to avoid losing the game.
That result left them 11 points
behind leaders Chelsea and six
behind reigning champions
Manchester City, with
Southampton, West Ham and
Manchester United also now
above them in the table.
Wenger made it clear he felt Hull
should have been beaten, and
that a lack of focus by
experienced players was the
main reason why Arsenal failed
to win.
“Of course I cannot say it’s not a
concern,” the veteran French
boss said on the subject of
Arsenal’s fading status as title-
contenders.
“It’s a big concern because the
other teams win their games and
we don’t.”
Wenger added: “It was a
disappointing afternoon because
we had 80 percent possession
and got one point.
“We had absolutely to win this
game and were unlucky with the
referee on the first goal but on
the second goal we can only
blame ourselves.
“We came out of the dressing
room with a lack of focus and
gave them (Hull) the lead straight
away. After, it was difficult. “I
cannot fault the effort or the
heart that we put in the game
but the defensive concentration
was missing on the second goal
and at that level you cannot give
goals away like that.”
The man at fault for the second
goal, which arrived 35 seconds
into the second half, was World
Cup-winner Per Mertesacker,
with the Germany centre-back
allowing Abel Hernandez to head
in a cross from the right from
Tom Huddlestone despite a
significant height advantage.
Earlier, Mohamed Diame had
cancelled out Alexis Sanchez’s
13th-minute opener with a goal
Arsenal were convinced should
have been disallowed for a foul
in the build-up on Mathieu
Flamini.
“The first goal is for the referee,”
Wenger added. “The second one
is for us and I told the players
that.
“They had two shots on goal in
the whole game. It’s difficult to
score three goals against any
team in the world,” added
Wenger, whose side did just that
to come from 2-0 down to defeat
Hull 3-2 in last season’s FA Cup
final.
Hull manager Steve Bruce insisted
it was a measure of the progress
his club had made in the last few
years that they were annoyed
not to win.
“The players are disappointed
because they’ve gone close again
and the frustration is that it’s
happened four times to us now
this season, conceding late on,”
he said.
“But we are disappointed
because we could only take a
point from Arsenal.
“I’ve been here before with
teams where they’ve played the
reserves and we’ve been beaten
by six or five and gone away
with our tails between our legs.
We’ve done extremely well to get
a point.
“In the last six months we have
played Arsenal twice, taken them
on twice — it took extra-time for
them to beat us in the Cup final
and to come here and play just
shows what strides we have
made.”
At least Arsenal did not suffer any
new injuries ahead of
Wednesday’s Champions League
game with Anderlecht in
Belgium.
Midfielder Jack Wilshere had to
be taken off after hurting himself
in a challenge that saw him
booked, but Wenger declared
him to be available “if selected”.
Hull saw goalkeeper Steve Harper
and defender Michael Dawson
sustain injuries, having had to
shelve plans to start with
Hernandez on the bench when
Nikica Jelavic pulled up in the
warm-up.
“The goalkeeper looks as though
he’s torn a muscle in his bicep,
Jelavic has got a badly-twisted
knee and Dawson’s ankle is the
size of a basketball, ” said Bruce,
now set to recall goalkeeper
Mark Oxley from a loan spell at
Hibernian to replace Harper, who
was deputising for injured first-
choice Allan McGregor

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