Football: Wenger gutted with team’s defence

Arsenal manager not impressed after 3-2 loss at Swansea.


Afp January 16, 2012

SWANSEA: Arsene Wenger admitted Arsenal’s defensive frailties are beginning to damage his team’s push for a place in the top four of the Premier League.

Sloppy defending, most notably by the Gunners’ German defender centreback Per Mertesacker, contributed to Arsenal’s surprise 3-2 defeat at Swansea. Successive league defeats have left Arsenal four points behind fourth-placed Chelsea and 10 behind third-placed Tottenham, putting them in real danger of failing to qualify for the Champions League.

“I felt that there were some odd turning points, like when we went to 2-2 we straightaway made a defensive mistake,” said Wenger. “It was similar to the Fulham match, a lack of appreciation of the ball. Our defensive performance wasn’t good enough. Their keeper kept them in the game and made some great saves and we missed some unbelievable chances that are difficult to explain.”

Wenger also criticised referee Michael Oliver for awarding a penalty to Swansea which he described as ‘complete imagination’.

Robin van Persie had given the Gunners a fifth-minute lead only for Oliver to point to the spot just 11 minutes later when Nathan Dyer went to ground under pressure from Aaron Ramsey, which Wenger branded a ‘good dive’. Scott Sinclair scored the resulting penalty and Dyer also got on the scoresheet before Danny Graham scored a 70th-minute winner within seconds of Theo Walcott having levelled matters.

“The game was difficult because Swansea played well and also it was decided by some strange decisions. The first one was complete imagination and a good dive. Well done to the player who did it.”

Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers also hailed his players for their heroics in achieving what he felt was their biggest scalp since their promotion to the Premier League.

Hughes plans signings

Meanwhile, QPR manager Mark Hughes is planning a series of signings during the January transfer window as he tries to lift his struggling side out of the Premier League relegation zone.

Hughes got a first glimpse of his new team’s problems during their 1-0 defeat at Newcastle United, as sloppy finishing and careless defending allowed the Magpies to steal the points.

“It’s fair to say we are in the market for good players if they become available and if they are attainable,” he said after Leon Best’s first-half goal condemned QPR to defeat.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 17th, 2012.

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