Thursday 14 December 2017

Swansea boss Garry Monk hits back at Arsene Wenger 'negative football' jibes

Manager Garry Monk of Swansea City gives instructions during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Swansea City at the Emirates
Manager Garry Monk of Swansea City gives instructions during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Swansea City at the Emirates

Jeremy Wilson

Garry Monk last night challenged Arsène Wenger to explain how his team had left the Emirates with all three points if it was true that the Swansea City’s players had “refused to play completely”.

An 85th-minute headed winner from Bafetimbi Gomis sealed Swansea’s first double over Arsenal for 33 years, despite Wenger’s team dominating possession and registering some 32 shots at goal.

“We were unlucky I think against a team who refused to play completely and just defended,” said Wenger. “We couldn’t take advantage of it. They came just to defend with four defenders and six midfielders. If you win – fantastic, if you lose people say, 'Why do you not play?’. They won so they are fantastic.

 “Swansea deserve credit for their defensive display but they probably had the fewest passes in our half of any team here this season. It’s of course frustrating. We rushed our finishing.”

Monk defended his team’s approach and felt vindicated by a result that closes the gap to Southampton in seventh and a potential Europa League place to just one point. “If we didn’t play how did we get three points?” said Monk. “Three points, that’s the pleasing bit whether we deserved it or not.

"We took a decision. We could have come here and gone toe-to-toe but they could have hurt us. We didn’t have a fully fit striker. There are times you have to be adaptable. If people don’t like that it’s not my problem. The idea was to get to the last 20 minutes, still be in the game, make our substitutions and try to win.”

Lukasz Fabianski was man of the match for Swansea after leaving Arsenal last summer in search of first-team football. “I was a little bit emotional before the game, but then when you step onto the pitch you just focus,” he said. “It’s always nice to show yourself at the Emirates against your former team.”

Defeat means that Arsenal can be leapfrogged in third place by Manchester United on Sunday and that finishing in the top two ahead of Manchester City is no longer in their own hands. Wenger said that it was “very important” to avoid a Champions League qualifier in August by finishing in the top three but pointed out that Arsenal still have an extra game in the final week of the season.

“We still have a game in hand — what is crucial is to respond and show that it is an accident today,” said Wenger. Monk said that he would need a bigger squad if they do qualify for Europe. “ The planning in terms of recruitment will have to increase.”

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