Arsenal were woeful in the second half of last night’s 3-3 draw with minnows Anderlecht at the Emirates, and can you believe that Arsene Wenger is blaming the defence for letting the goals in?
“You have to give Anderlecht credit because they fought until the end and we had a poor defensive performance from the first to the last minute today.” Wenger said after the game.
“We never felt comfortable and somewhere we got punished because of bad luck. The first goal was offside but defensively our performance was not good enough to do it. Secondly at 3-0 we thought the job was done and it was a combination of switching off and fatigue as well. You could see we couldn’t win the challenges and they finished stronger and sharper – we got punished. It’s very disappointing but overall over the two games we got four points. I think we are well paid for our two performances.”
Another reason Wenger thinks we blew our lead was because we missed Arteta when he was taken off with a hamstring injury (for how long?) and that left our defence exposed, although Matthieu Flamini was a straight like-for-like replacement. “I think when we lost Mikel Arteta we lost out because he was one of the few who defended well. That didn’t help. Apart from that maybe we underestimated subconsciously Anderlecht and got punished. In the Champions League you need to be at the mental level or you get punished and certainly we were not.”
But Wenger again blasted the defence for not dealing with our opponents, especially in the last half hour of the match. “We dropped off too much and didn’t go into the challenges any more. Then you’re always open. We stopped winning the challenges and we dropped off and off and off.
“We were always open and we didn’t stop the crosses, we didn’t stop the long balls and I don’t especially think we were outnumbered. In the first half it happened, in the second half it was bad defending more than being outnumbered.”
I can understand why Wenger thought we were outnumbered, as according to Arsenal.com’s report of the match, Anderlecht had 21 players on the pitch *see at bottom of this report!