Saturday, 29th September, 2012
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger watched his side go down to a 2-1 defeat at home to Chelsea in the Premier League and was quick to identify defensive issues as contributing to their downfall.
Fernando Torres gave the visitors the lead in the 20th minute, connecting expertly from a free kick, before Ivorian Gervinho blasted the ball home to equalise three minutes before half-time.
The Spaniard floated the ball goalwards, catching the Arsenal backline by surprise and, while Laurent Koscielny tried to react, he could not get there in time and it was 2-1 to the Blues.
The match had been somewhat even in terms of possession and shots on goal, but Chelsea’s superior performance at set pieces, which allowed them to score two goals, ultimately meant victory for Roberto Di Matteo’s men and an end to Arsenal’s unbeaten start to the season. Fingers were instantly pointed at Wenger’s decision to leave giant German defender Per Mertesacker on the bench, though the Frenchman did not believe that contributed towards the defeat.
But for Wenger, there could be no doubt that it was a failure to defend properly which cost his team.
"I feel we played against a good team, but we gave the game away", the Frenchman told his club’s official site.
"They had three shots on target and scored two goals, from soft set-pieces", he continued.
"Defensively we were just not at the level you have to be in a game like that, which is where we were punished today."
Wenger did declare himself happy with his side’s play in other areas of the pitch, though again stressed that defending let the Gunners down.
"For the rest, we have shown quality and spirit but we have to show more personality and authority on the goals we conceded."