Arsene Wenger admitted Petr Cech saved Arsenal against Middlesbrough, while also commenting on the fatigue level of his players.
The Arsenal manager, who is in his 20th season in charge of Arsenal, turned 67 today, but his party was spoiled somewhat with two dropped points against Middlesbrough. The result still meant that Arsenal went top of the table, but with Manchester City still to play.
Arsenal were dominant, with the lion’s share of possession at 75%, but still had to contend with Adama Traore’s lightning speed on the counter attack. Speaking after the game, Wenger commented on how they could have lost the game were it not for Cech.
“It is a game where you had a lot of possession but there were tired legs and you are prone to counter-attacks. You make it difficult for yourself. 75% possession but you could have lost the game, that is modern football,” Wenger told BBC Sport.
“They had chances but our goalkeeper saved us today. Petr Cech had a good performance in decisive phases. We tried. You don’t win on command though. We lacked our creative potential around the box. That is part of it.
The Arsenal keeper showed great reaction to twice deny Adama Traore, and like Wenger said, Arsenal could easily have lost the game on the night.
Arsenal nearly snatched it at the end, but a Mesut Ozil goal was correctly ruled offside. Wenger tried to change things up by introducing Lucas Perez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but neither of them made a real impact on the game and Middlesbrough deservedly held on for a draw. As reported by Sky Sports, Wenger admitted that tired legs were also a factor in the game.
“You could see that in some heads and legs, mentally we were not as sharp as we are used to, and some legs need two or three days recovery.”
Arsene Wenger’s side were without Santi Cazorla, who missed the game through a knock he picked up earlier in the week against Ludogorets. The Spaniards absence was telling, and Wenger will be hoping the midfielder returns sooner rather than later.