Saturday 24 February 2018

Arsene Wenger blames players for 'suicidal' defending

Jamie Holland

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger did not hold back in criticising his team for their "suicidal" defending in the shock 3-1 defeat at home to Monaco.

Wenger admitted his team were second best throughout but was at a loss to explain why they were so flat.

"We missed chances and we were a bit suicidal defensively," he said. "We were not at the level defensively and we were a bit unlucky as well because the first goal is deflected. On the second and the third goal we were suicidal.

"We had the luck to come back to 2-1 but not the right to give away a goal the way we did because that makes our task extremely difficult in the second leg.

"It looks like we have lost our nerve and our rationality on the pitch. The heart took over the head and at that level it doesn't work."

The Gunners boss has seen his team exit this stage for the last four years and intimated that his team weren't focused enough for what was generally regarded as the best last 16 draw they could have got.

"Mentally we were not ready or sharp enough to get into this game. We paid for it. In the first 20 minutes there was enough room to win the game.


Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain gets a goal back for Arsenal
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain gets a goal back for Arsenal

"Monaco are strong physically with a good physical density and we missed the chances. If you look at the number of chances we missed, at that level you cannot afford that.

"We had a lot of possession and I just believe that defensively we were not at the level. Our weakness was more down to mentality. We rushed our game. . . we were too impatient.

"This is a game of 180 minutes and if you look at the second and third goal, it's difficult to explain how we conceded these goals. You cannot afford that."

Wenger was critical of players throughout his team with Olivier Giroud taken off after a run of missed chances despite his recent good form.

"I felt he had an off night," said Wenger. "He missed easy chances and it looked like it was not one of his best days."

Despite scoring Arsenal's only goal, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was "disappointed" having lost the ball in the run up to Monaco's crucial third goal.

"He's very disappointed but it can happen that you lose the ball 70 metres from goal," said a clearly irate Wenger. "It doesn't mean you have to concede a goal, you have defenders behind you.

"The players wanted to do well and come back when it was 2-1. They wanted to come back to 2-2 and forgot their elementary cautiousness.

"We have a smaller chance but no matter how big the chance is we will go for it. We need to recover from this disappointment and prepare for the next game."

Irish Independent

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