• Premier League

Wenger plays down Szczesny fears

ESPN staff
November 11, 2013
Wenger bemoans international break

Arsene Wenger insists he would have substituted Wojciech Szczesny in Arsenal's 1-0 defeat to Manchester United if he was in any doubt the goalkeeper could not continue after sustaining a head knock.

Wenger's Tottenham counterpart Andre Villas-Boas was heavily criticised for allowing goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to stay on after he suffered concussion in the 0-0 draw against Everton last Sunday.

And Szczesny required similar treatment after a sickening clash of heads with United defender Phil Jones, who was booked for his involvement in the incident, before completing the game at Old Trafford.

But Wenger said: "I listen to the doctor. If he says to me he has to come off, he comes off - no matter if we have seven men on the field, I do it. You have only one life and you have 60 games per year."

Former Arsenal captain Robin van Persie headed United's winner and Wenger was annoyed with the manner of the goal and felt that his side did not play to their potential

"It is disappointing to lose a game the way we lost it," he added. "At the start of the game we didn't play our game. We were nervous, insecure. We gave them a little bit of comfort by making a mistake at the first set-piece, or the second.

"After that we lost too many balls and rushed our game in the first half. We had the opportunity at least to get a draw out of this game. Until the end we looked like we can score and there were always dangers. We lacked that quality in our final ball, the sharpness maybe to finish crosses."

Wenger lost defender Per Mertesacker and midfielder Tomas Rosicky to a virus before the game but refused to blame that for the defeat.

"They [the other players] declared themselves fit so they play," he said. "When they play, they play. There is no excuse. I felt physically we were all right."

The Frenchman was unhappy with the performance of referee Michael Oliver but refused to be specific in his criticisms for fear he would be fined by the FA.

"I don't want to talk too much about that," he said. "I need to buy some Christmas presents and these statements cost too much money now."

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