• Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United

Wenger: We forgot our principles

ESPN staff
November 24, 2014
ESPN FC's Steve Nicol says Arsene Wenger has 'no excuses'

Arsene Wenger has criticised his Arsenal players for forgetting their principles during the 2-1 defeat to Manchester United on Saturday - a match the Frenchman says was "there for the taking".

Wenger watched on as his side again fail to turn a largely promising performance into an end product as Arsenal failed to capitalise on a blistering start against a United side crippled by injuries.

United soaked up the first-half pressure and took the lead through a Kieran Gibbs own goal shortly after the break before Wayne Rooney doubled the lead with a neat finish after a swift counter-attack.

But despite Olivier Giroud halving the deficit to set up a nervy final few minutes, Wenger was left to reflect on what might have been.

He said: "Our results are not there at the moment because we lack a bit of maturity defensively and we pay for it.

"Because we were 1-0 down and we wanted to desperately come back, and we forgot our principles a little bit.

"I have to see [Rooney's breakaway goal] again because I was surprised there wasn't anyone there any more.

"We were caught when we had a corner for us because sometimes the players forget the cautiousness because the emotional side of the game takes over."

Wenger added: "I wasn't angry with the players - I have a lot of respect for the energy they put in the game and the spirit they show.

"I am just angry because the players do not get rewarded and our fans do not get rewarded for the result that was just there for the taking."

There were signs of a growing discontent in some sections of the Emirates crowd. Manchester United substitute Darren Fletcher was involved in a heated exchange with fans behind the opposition bench following the opening goal, when it is understood a paper cup of coffee was thrown at the visitors as they celebrated the opening goal.

A few Arsenal fans, meanwhile, held up placards calling for Wenger's dismissal, which were quickly confiscated by club stewards.

Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta revealed the players were in shock as to just how they did not manage to get something out of the match.

"We played our best game of the season, but it is about being ruthless for sure because when you are inside the box, and you cannot manage to score in that many situations, you cannot expect to win a football game," he said.

Arteta, though, insists Arsenal must not allow any hangovers from such a disappointing result as they prepare for Tuesday night's Champions League tie with Borussia Dortmund.

"When you lose, there is something which is not going well, but we cannot forget (what we have done well) as that creates a lack of belief and confidence if you just take a lot of negatives at the end when you have lost the game.

"We have been too inconsistent at home and dropped too many points already, but we have been saying that for weeks now and we need to turn that around."

Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was able to walk unaided out of the stadium after being clattered by Gibbs in the build-up to the opening goal, while Jack Wilshere had an X-ray on his ankle after being caught by Paddy McNair. The result was clear, but will be assessed once the swelling has gone down.

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