Wenger targets home help
Published 08/11/2010 | 08:37
Arsene Wenger accepts Arsenal must learn how to make the most of home advantage if they are to force themselves back into the Barclays Premier League title race after suffering a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Newcastle at Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners failed to capitalise on Chelsea's loss at Liverpool when they were beaten by Andy Carroll's header just before the break, when goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski failed to collect a looping free-kick into the penalty area.
It was the newly-promoted Magpies' first win at Emirates Stadium, and a second home defeat already for Arsenal, who lost to West Brom before the international break.
The outcome, though, could have been different but for Tim Krul's fine save from Samir Nasri's drive when the game was goalless, while captain Cesc Fabregas, still showing the signs of a hamstring problem, saw his free-kick deflected onto the bar and Theo Walcott also struck the woodwork at the start of the second half.
A miserable afternoon was compounded by the dismissal of centre-back Laurent Koscielny in stoppage time for a professional foul as the Gunners suffered a second successive defeat, following their midweek Champions League loss away to Shakhtar Donetsk.
The performance left both Gunners fans and their manager with another sense of frustration.
"Our home form is a concern because against Birmingham and West Ham they were struggling wins," said Wenger, who admitted Robin van Persie was not really ready for a return to action after coming from the bench following his long injury lay-off.
"Everybody comes here and plays very tight. When you score the first goal it is all right because teams have to come out, but as long as they can sit deep we have a problem to play through when we are not on full power."
Wenger accepted his men were below par, but paid tribute to the visitors' resolve.
"We were never in full flow, but we played against a good Newcastle team who are a team of men, strong physically, mature," lamented the Arsenal manager.
"We did not look sharp and we never found any sharpness. We never found the second gear.
"Overall, though, I still believe we were very unlucky to lose the game, they had one shot on target. We hit the woodwork two or three times and their keeper made a very good save."
Wenger felt Fabianski could perhaps have done better with the goal.
"He didn't have a lot to do and I think he was a bit too confident to take this ball," said Wenger, who revealed Arsenal may consider an appeal against Koscielny's red card, the foul on substitute Nile Ranger coming near the touchline rather than in a central position.
"It was not a technical mistake, it was a problem of timing and he thought maybe he wouldn't be challenged."
Like goalscorer Carroll, Wenger had also been in the media spotlight ahead of this fixture following allegations about his private life.
However, the Arsenal manager would not be drawn on the controversy.
"I arrived 14 years ago and you know what happened and I promised myself I would never comment any more, because for 14 years I have been insulted everywhere in England, and never with any truth," Wenger said.
"I promised myself I would never speak about my private life any more."