Stunning comments from Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger who says his side must be “more realistic” about their Premier League title chances after losing 2-1 at Swansea City on Sunday.
The Gunners went ahead through an Alexis Sanchez finish on 63 minutes, but a fine free kick from Glyfi Sigurdsson and a powerful header from Bafetimbi Gomis completed an impressive comeback by the Welsh side.
The Gunners surrendered the lead for the second time in five days following their midweek 3-3 draw against Anderlecht in the Champions League after going 3-0 up, and the defeat at the Liberty Stadium sees his side slip 12 points behind table-toppers Chelsea.
“We have different worries than that [the gap to the top], we lost a game we really shouldn’t have lost,” he told his postgame news conference.
“We have to live in the realistic world. In football you have to win the games you can win and today was one. If you want to challenge for the Premier League you have to be a bit more realistic than we were today.”
Swansea moved up to fifth in the table following the win while Arsenal dropped down to sixth, and Wenger believes his side’s inability to dominate the midfield contest ultimately cost them.
“I think it’s difficult to explain how we lost the lead as we were in control and they didn’t give up,” he said. “I thought we lost some decisive challenges in the middle of the park in the last 20 minutes and we paid for that, and that’s where we lost the battle.
“I worry that we conceded the goals. I think we could have won the game before [Swansea’s equaliser], but after that, the free kick was a great free kick.
“We lost the ball, we were in control and you can never predict when you lose the ball. We were not in too much trouble [in the first half] and I think we had the best chances. It was a very tactical game. I felt — at 1-0 up — we lacked some spark and killing instinct to win it.”
With Arsenal already trailing Chelsea by 12 points, Wenger believes Mourinho’s side will lift the title if they keep up their impressive early season form, adding:
“Look at the season and Chelsea are on course for 105 points.
“Look at the number of points they have today and if they keep that up nobody will touch them, that’s for sure.
“It doesn’t look like anybody is capable of challenging them at the moment. There’s no obvious reason but they have had a good start and as long as you don’t lose you don’t question yourself.
“Maybe a little bit more extra spirit in the team helps them when it gets tight.”
I am not sure what stuns me more about Wenger’s comments. That the embers are still burning from Guy Fawkes Day and he has waived the white flag on the title, or that he admits his midfield is not good enough.
On the title front, Arsenal are already out of the League Cup and the will once again finish second in their Champions League group, which will probably lead to another Round of 16 defeat. With the league gone, according to Wenger, that leaves the FA Cup for Arsenal fans to look forward too. For the next SEVEN months!
But it might be the midfield comments that infuriate the Arsenal fans the most, especially as Wenger passed on signing former Gunners captain Cesc Fabregas this summer. In essence saying that Fabregas was not good enough to get into the Arsenal line-up. Yet here we are in early November, the Arsenal midfield is getting played around and through by the likes of Anderlecht and Swansea and Cesc is doing is leading the Premier League with 9 assists this season. That is more than double what the Arsenal midfield has managed this season (four).
What do you think go Wenger’s comments? Is he just being realistic? Or is it too early to give up on the title race?