Arsene Wenger could only watch shell-shocked as his Arsenal team slumped to their first away defeat of the season at Norwich yesterday. Norwich looked fitter and sharper and hungrier to take the points and deserved to move out of the relegation zone this evening.
Arsenal were a shadow of the team that had started the season so promisingly, and an unhappy Wenger said after the game: “Norwich had a good defensive performance; they were focused and committed. We had a lot of the ball but did not create much with it. It was an illusionary domination. It was a disappointing performance on our side.
“I felt we lacked a bit of sharpness. We tried to get into the game after 20 minutes. But we missed what makes the success at the top level – that is complete focus. And they were sharper than us.
“I hope it will have a positive impact. It was a shock to the system today. But you have to give credit to Norwich today. They played well, were completely committed and they deserved the win. Maybe we underrated the difficulty we would face.
“But the Premier League is the Premier League. If you are not ready for the fight then you will always have bad surprises. There is a big difference between the amount of possession we had and the amount of chances we created. That is down to the fact that Norwich defended well and we did not create a lot.”
Norwich’s goal came from a long range shot from Tettey that was failed to be held by Vito Mannone, allowing Grant Holt to pounce on the loose ball, but Wenger refused to blame the Italian keeper for the defeat. Wenger said: “We do not blame anybody, we many made mistakes today. We have to put that performance behind us, realise that is not good enough and come out on Wednesday with a different performance.
“The attitude of the team has been excellent but that was not at the level of what we have produced until now. It was the first time of the season we were way below par. And we were well below today.”
Arsenal could have moved into fourth win a win last night but now find themselves ten points behind the leaders Chelsea after just eight games. “The gap at the top is unpleasant,” Wenger continued. “We had an opportunity to close the gap but we didn’t.
“It does worry me but what is more disappointing is we didn’t score.”
Disappointing is hardly a strong enough word. Everything was looking so promising up until now, but this totally unexpected defeat has suddenly left Arsenal playing catch-up yet again. Oh well, maybe next year…..