A tired Arsenal beat a very mediocre Sunderland side yesterday, but it seemed to take the Gunners forever to break down the Black Cats defence, especially with Jason Pickford’s heroics in goal. We finally got the breakthrough after an hour of probing and then it was mostly plain sailing, but Wenger believes that the recent fixture congestion caused the team to be more careful and had to show patience to get past our opponents.
Wenger said after the game: “It was a game we had absolutely to win. We did it, we have 72 points now and we have to focus to get 75. That was not likely to happen three or four weeks ago but we need to patient a bit because we played Sunday, Wednesday, Saturday, Tuesday, with two difficult away games. It took us a while to get into our rhythm. In the second half, in the last 25 or 30 minutes, it happened.”
Arsenal are finishing the season with a flourish, with 7 wins in our last 8 games, so is he happy that his side are performing at the right time: “We won more games than last year, because we already have one point more than last year.” he said. “We have gone through a difficult period away from home. At home, if you look at our record, it’s quite good. We have lost three away games recently that we should not have lost, at West Brom just before the international break, and after at Crystal Palace. Overall I’d say it’s away from home that we have lost our chances to win the championship. At home, our record is decent.”
Arsenal were up with the leaders before Xmas, but then we lost two away games in quick succession to two top six rivals. Wenger thinks this was the beginining of their downfall. “I would say yes because in the two games we were leading 1-0 and we got caught in the second half. I think especially at Everton, we were really unlucky because some decisions were really bad on the night. After, we had to go straight to Man City and it didn’t help. We can talk and talk, but at the end let’s make 75 points. If you look at the number of points we can make, it’s one of the best in the last 10 years.”
There you have it. We finished second last year, and we already have more points than that so it is not a complete disaster of a year. But I’m not sure if it was those two that were our downfall, it was the small things like losing five away games in row that may have caused us to lose the title, and that was long after the Everton and City games!