Premier League

January 30, 2013



2 - 2


Premier League

19:45 +00:00, January 30, 2013

Emirates Stadium, England

Wenger calls for calm

Arsene Wenger acknowledged his Arsenal side have defensive problems to face after their 2-2 draw with Liverpool, but urged the club's fans to have faith in his players as they pursue a Champions League spot.

A catalogue of errors saw the Gunners fall behind to Luis Suarez's fifth-minute opener and Jordan Henderson's second-half strike, only for the home side to suddenly click into gear and level thanks to Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott.

That highlighted perfectly the situation Arsenal find themselves in, with an often scintillating attack hamstrung by a leaky defence.

Bacary Sagna, Thomas Vermaelen and Aaron Ramsey were all culpable for the Suarez goal, while Andre Santos was muscled off the ball by Henderson as he scored.

Fortunately for Arsenal, they did not lose too much ground on their fellow Champions League hopefuls as Chelsea and Tottenham drew at Reading and Norwich respectively, and Wenger thinks they have a lot to look forward to if they can remove their defensive nervousness.

"It was a great football game where both teams went for it," Wenger said. "It was entertainment. We could honestly have lost the game but could have won it by three or four goals difference.

"It shows we created many chances going forward but were nervous defensively. The goals we have conceded show we were nervous from the start. Overall we showed great quality in the offensive period."

It is not the first time Arsenal's defenders have had fingers pointed at them this season and Wenger added: "I believe recent history has an impact on the way we started the game.

"I believe we have to get that out of our minds and focus on playing football and what we want to do to the opposition.

"I believe the quality is there and we have to trust it and forget what happened in the past. What happened in the past, you could see it played in our heads at the start of the game."

Wenger's hopes of tightening his back line up have taken a blow, however, with England full-back Kieran Gibbs picking up a thigh injury that will rule him out for three weeks.

"Of course it is a big blow because Gibbs was an important player for us going forward and the game we want to play. It's a shame he's out for the next three weeks," Wenger said.

Wenger also confirmed that any bid for Barcelona striker David Villa was dead, but will not be too concerned if there are no new signings tomorrow.

"I believe the squad is top, top level," he said. "We have to learn to trust these players and keep faith with them."

Liverpool have already been active, signing Daniel Sturridge early in the month and Philippe Coutinho today.

Tom Ince was also on their radar, but manager Brendan Rodgers does not expect the Blackpool winger to arrive before tomorrow night's deadline, although he is not ruling a move out forever.

"I think it will be difficult now. We could still do the deal but it looks like one that is a bit too complicated at this stage," he said.

"It's about affordability as well. If Tom stays at Blackpool it doesn't mean he won't join Liverpool at a later stage."

As for tonight's game, Rodgers was pleased with the response of his players following the FA Cup exit at Oldham on Sunday.

"There is an initial disappointment when you are 2-0 up but we knew Arsenal were going to have a spell," Rodgers said.

"We could have had a few more goals but my overriding emotion is one of pride. Sunday was more my fault than theirs. I am a great believer in young players and I put a lot of trust in them. The problem is when I put them in and I don't have some of our big players, it's difficult.

"But I never had second thoughts about getting a reaction because these players have been brilliant."

Scoring Summary

Arsenal Liverpool
Olivier Giroud (64')Luis Suárez (5')
Theo Walcott (67')Jordan Henderson (60')