Saturday 20 January 2018

'Arsenal have lost momentum' - Arsene Wenger makes admission as November stutter bites again

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger

Jeremy Wilson

Arsène Wenger admitted that ­Arsenal were suffering another ­November stutter after his team again missed the chance to go through to the Champions League last 16 as group winners.

Arsenal have drawn Barcelona or Bayern Munich in recent years ­after failing to finish top of their group and, after leading here with 14 minutes to go, Alex Iwobi’s own goal helped Paris St-Germain clinch a draw. PSG now need to beat Ludogorets in Paris next month to win the group.

It is Arsenal’s third consecutive draw but, more worryingly, it continues their dip in form since Santi Cazorla suffered an Achilles tendon injury in October. November is ­historically the month during which Arsenal have suffered their worst results under Wenger.

“We have not lost, but we have lost a winning momentum a little bit but we played against a good team,” Wenger said. “I believe I have to be careful on the choice of my words. I say 'stuttering’ and it comes back at me. We have a special strength in the squad, a consistency in results. We are unbeaten in 18 games. Sometimes you go through spells when you win a bit less. But we have to continue without losing and transform draws into wins. There’s no reason to panic.”

Wenger had said previously that finishing second would make him feel guilty if Arsenal were then to draw one of the competition ­favourites, although Bayern ­Munich are now certain to finish runners up in their group and Real Madrid are second in theirs.

“We are second but it’s not over,” said Wenger. “We have a 90 per cent chance to finish second but we’ve not lost a game. Overall we’ve done the job well. Will we be lucky enough to finish first? The advantage if you finish first is to play the second game at home. We had a very strong start in the second half and were dominant, but then we dropped off.”

There was controversy when Alexis Sánchez won a penalty under minimal contact but PSG manager Unai Emery did not complain and defender Grzegorz Krychowiak ­admitted that he had made a ­mistake. “I can’t kid myself; maybe it was a bit of a lack of concentration,” he said.

Wenger also played down a clash between Aaron Ramsey and Edinson Cavani. Ramsey had clutched his face, even if replays suggested that Cavani had only brushed his chest with a raised arm. “I think it was not too much,” Wenger said.

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