Arsenal FC manager Arsene Wenger has expressed his concern about his side’s poor defensive record against the top four sides of the Premier League last season.
Arsenal conceded 20 goals in seven matches against Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea in all competitions last season. The Gunners did maintain a good defensive record in the first half of the season, when they were still in the title race, but poor results against other title contenders proved to be a massive stumbling block as they dropped out of the race in the second half of 2013-14.
“I was concerned [by Arsenal’s record against the top four]. I was concerned and shocked by the number of goals that we conceded. Of course we were Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde defensively. We had 18 clean sheets but when we did not keep a clean sheet we let them score.
“I think it was down to confidence. Overall we were quite sound defensively but we have a good opportunity to improve that.
“Honestly [the Man City game was] not so much damaging because we finished with 10 men and when we looked at the game again we had six or seven chances to score,” added Wenger.
“I took a gamble at 10 against 11 like I always do to have a chance to come back, but when you look at the chances we missed, that was not a damaging [result]. For us what was damaging was the two games at Liverpool and at Chelsea.
“With City we came home and felt that we played Wednesday night in Naples and then Saturday morning at Man City and we had plenty of chances. We were not outplayed, we lost the game in the last 20 minutes really.” – The Arsenal manager said.
The Frenchman also believes that the title race will be more competitive this season with Manchester United back in frame under Louis van Gaal, and he expects as many six teams to challenge for the trophy.
“It could be more competitive, yes. Man United will certainly come back into it, so if you have six teams to fight for the championship that would mean that every other game will be of a huge importance.
“It means there could be even more importance not to drop points against the teams who don’t compete for the championships.
“When you look at the Premier League last year, it was down to one or two games won or lost and nobody can predict it. I think there were four teams in the race last year and there could be five or six this season.” – He added.
Wenger insists that the club is in a better position financially than they were five years ago and can compete with most of their opponents in the market.
“We were never really far [away last season]. The new era is that we have more money available to buy today than we had five years ago.
“We can compete better today to buy the top players who are on the market and for years we have lost top players without being capable of buying top players because we were in financial management.
“Today we are in a more comfortable situation but, let’s be honest as well, there are still more people out there who have more financial potential.” – He said ahead of their match against Manchester City for the Community Shield.