Belief is lacking: Wenger

Swansea City defender Ashley Williams in jubilant mood after scoring the second goal against Arsenal as goalkeeper Petr Cech looks on. The 2-1 win puts Swansea six points clear of relegation and the Gunners have now lost three straight games in all c
Swansea City defender Ashley Williams in jubilant mood after scoring the second goal against Arsenal as goalkeeper Petr Cech looks on. The 2-1 win puts Swansea six points clear of relegation and the Gunners have now lost three straight games in all competitions. Arsenal also trail Leicester City by six points.PHOTO: REUTERS

Arsenal boss says his players need to find a confidence boost as he shuns talk of title

LONDON • Arsene Wenger admitted his players were suffering from a confidence issue after Arsenal slumped to a 1-2 loss to Swansea City that dented their Premier League title hopes in front of a baying home crowd.

Arsenal failed to bounce back from Sunday's 3-2 defeat by a youthful Manchester United side, which had triggered a sense of crisis and it was easy to see how the nervousness of the players and their supporters made for a damaging combination.

After Wednesday's defeat left the Gunners six points off leaders Leicester City, Wenger was not keen to discuss Arsenal's faltering push for the title.

On his side's prospects, he said: "At the moment, we don't dream, we are realistic. We have to come back to positive results before we speak about championships.

"We will not talk about titles tonight. I'm not in the mood. It's a big disappointment. We have to swallow that and bounce back. The players are very down. We have to respond."

  • 2013

    Arsenal had not lost a home Premier League game after scoring the opener since August 2013.

    10

    Swansea City have won more Premier League points away at the Emirates than any other team.

    1

    The Gunners have lost back-to-back league matches for the first time since November 2014. Then, their two losses also came against Swansea and Manchester United.

That Swansea made six changes with Saturday's games against Norwich City in mind, including a debut for 21-year-old Stephen Kingsley at left-back, only served to accentuate Arsenal's disappointment.

A BITTER PILL TO SWALLOW

We will not talk about titles tonight. I'm not in the mood.

ARSENE WENGER, Arsenal manager, after their 2-1 defeat by Swansea.

Wenger's team even led through Joel Campbell but they were reeled in by goals from Wayne Routledge and Ashley Williams.

Swansea assistant manager Alan Curtis' tactical adjustment during the first half, switching from a diamond midfield to a 4-5-1, helped turn the match around.

It was the perfect antidote in their fight against relegation as the win lifted the Welsh club six points clear of the relegation zone.

It was also good news for their manager Francesco Guidolin, who followed his team's fortunes from a hospital after being admitted with a chest infection.

"I've not spoken to him, but I had a voicemail to say how delighted he is," Curtis revealed.

But it was a bitter pill for Wenger, who noted that Swansea scored with their only two efforts on target, even if they managed 11 shots.

The Gunners, meanwhile, hit the woodwork three times through Alexis Sanchez (twice) and striker Olivier Giroud.

"I believe we were really unlucky with our finishing and some decisions today," Wenger said.

"We stopped playing before (their) first goal because there was a foul on Mesut Oezil. There were hands around his neck and it should have been a free kick for us."

Arsenal did not play to the whistle then, and at the full-time whistle found themselves at the end of a third straight defeat in all competitions for the first time since 2010.

"Was it a confidence issue? It looks a bit like that, yes," said Wenger. "We have to focus on our job and come back to reminding ourselves that we have some quality."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 04, 2016, with the headline 'Belief is lacking: Wenger'. Print Edition | Subscribe