Tuesday 23 December 2014

Per Mertesacker suffers black eye in bust-up with Arsenal team-mate Yaya Sanogo

Published 09/02/2014 | 13:23

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 08:  Per Mertesacker of Arsenal competes with Luis Suarez of Liverpool during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield on February 8, 2014 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Per Mertesacker of Arsenal competes with Luis Suarez yesterday

Arsène Wenger shouldered the blame for Arsenal’s 5-1 defeat at Liverpool – and admitted that “the whole team failed to turn up with the right performance” including himself.

To compound Arsenal’s misery it emerged that defender Per Mertesacker had sustained a black eye following a training ground bust-up with young striker Yaya Sanogo. Arsenal played down the clash, saying it was the kind of incident that happens throughout a season. The 21-year-old was not punished by the club.

Arsenal also said that the clash with Sanogo had taken place some time ago with Mertesacker having stated in an interview yesterday that he sustained the black eye he sported during the game after being elbowed accidentally by Wojciech Szczesny in training.

Afterwards Wenger said of the humiliating defeat: “We always looked vulnerable defensively. What is important is that we respond to that result and especially that the response is a different performance because our performance was poor.”

Wenger conceded that Liverpool “were the better team” but added that his own display as a manager was not up to scratch. “Maybe I should not say too much because my performance was not good enough either,” he said.

Arsenal were four goals down inside 20 minutes and although Wenger delayed making any changes until after an hour he admitted he was tempted earlier. “At half-time I could have taken a lot of people off,” he said. “I think the whole team failed to turn up with the right performance. Our team performance was poor.”

Arsenal, who were knocked off the top of the Premier League table, now face a crucial sequence of matches starting with Wednesday’s home fixture against Manchester United. “It raises questions we have to answer on Wednesday night,” Wenger said. “It is how we respond that matters.”

He refused to accept the defeat had severely damaged Arsenal’s title chances. “It is always what you make of your defeat that decides your future. Liverpool were the better team and we were very poor.

“We have to analyse what happened. We did not look sharp. From the top to the defence we were beaten everywhere. Only our fans were at the races for 90 minutes because we were not. I know this team has mental qualities but we have to think what did not work, myself included. We have to analyse well what happened because you cannot go into big games and be as passive on the concentration levels as we were.”

Olivier Giroud admitted that he had a terrible game, the striker saying via Twitter: “Was a really poor performance from me! We have to face our responsibilities and bounce back. So disappointed but keep the head up!”

Arsenal now face a tricky run of fixtures against Manchester United in the league on Wednesday followed by Liverpool in the FA Cup and then Bayern Munich in the Champions League the following Wednesday. The good news is they are all at home.

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