Saturday 24 March 2018

'Absolutely disastrous' - Arsene Wenger hints at private issues affecting Arsenal following Liverpool hammering

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger looks dejected during the match against Liverpool at Anfield. Photo: Carl Recine/Reuters
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger looks dejected during the match against Liverpool at Anfield. Photo: Carl Recine/Reuters

Chris Bascombe

Arsene Wenger branded Arsenal's capitulation to Liverpool "absolutely disastrous" after suffering the indignity of one of the lowest days in his managerial career.

The first crisis of the season has arrived for the Frenchman swifter than he could have imagined following this rout, the problems that raised questions about the manager's future last year seemingly unresolved.

Wenger hinted at private issues contributing to an abysmal showing and he did not hold back in an emotive appraisal of the drubbing.

Asked what went wrong, Wenger said: "Everything. From the first to the last minute, not physically, not technically, not mentally, we were not at the level and we were punished.

"It was a tough day. You can analyse the chances we gave away but overall the performance was not at the requested level."

Pushed on why, Wenger added: "That is very difficult to answer after the game. There are some reasons but I don't think I have too much to comment on that now.

"Now we have played three games, one home game and two away games. In two games we looked quite good but today the performance was not acceptable at that level."

Wenger has suffered some harrowing defeats in his career, but the timing and manner of this was especially damaging with the club trying to improve morale and belief having dropped out of the Champions League last season.

It comes with several players' futures - short-term and long-term - under scrutiny, and the commitment of numerous Arsenal players was questionable.

"It is true that today that we were an easy opponent for Liverpool," admitted Wenger before being ushered to leave his post-match press conference after just three questions and three minutes.

Earlier, Wenger told broadcast media he was shocked by his side's display.

"The result is a consequence of our performance. We were not good enough," he said. "It was shocking but our performance was absolutely disastrous. Not to become too emotional, we have to take some distance, and there are some reasons behind it, and the players now go on their international break, but we do have to take the consequences of our performance today.

"If you find a manager who is happy with that performance today, I wish you good luck. The emotions are negative, but it's not the right moment to talk about that."

Arsenal fans vented their frustration, both jeering and sarcastically chanting about winning the league. "That's part of the crowd's feelings. If I am the problem, I am sorry, but I believe all together we lose," said Wenger. "The only thing we can do is come back and give them a better level of performance."

Arsenal's performance provoked a scathing response from pundits, with legendary player Thierry Henry stating he could not view what was unfolding. "It was unwatchable, at one point I wanted to leave. I don't relate to the team and I don't think a lot of the fans do. That is a problem," said the club's record goalscorer.

"It's painful. It's how they lose. It's always the same. You have seen it before. Everything you see reminds me of what has happened for the last 10 years."

Gary Neville suggested every Arsenal player should be transfer-listed in shame. "I'm absolutely fuming watching them. It's ridiculous some of the things you see from them," said the former Manchester United defender.

"I'd stick them all up on the transfer list. Some of these Arsenal players want a move, but who would buy them?"

Graeme Souness was equally contemptuous. "They were wishy-washy, weak-willed, pussy-footed - and those are the nice things I can say about them," he said.

"When they are at their worst against a team who asks something of them, they just wilt. It beggars belief that players with Premier League experience make mistake after mistake." © Daily Telegraph, London.

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