Wenger stumped by Arsenal’s failure to turn up in big games
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has been left puzzled by his side once again failing to turn up in a big game after they went down 6-0 at Chelsea.
The heavy defeat on Saturday lunchtime ruined Wenger’s 1,000th match in charge and severely dented any title ambitions, with the Gunners now down in fourth place, albeit still with a match in hand on the leaders.
Wenger’s team appeared to have learned no lessons from their 6-3 defeat at Manchester City earlier this season and the subsequent 5-1 mauling at Liverpool – where they trailed 4-0 inside 20 minutes – as Arsenal were torn apart by Jose Mourinho’s rampant Blues during a blistering opening spell.
The French coach is expecting a response against Swansea on Tuesday night, but admits he needs to get to the bottom of why the players again failed to deliver a big performance when it was needed the most.
"We felt we prepared properly, but we did not turn up, so it is puzzling," Wenger said.
"After 20 minutes, it was game over and it became a long, dramatic and dreadful afternoon.
"That is the most disappointing, when you prepare with the intensity that we do, you then turn up for your game of the season and are never even in it.
"This is puzzling because we were shocked and knocked down basically without feeling you have had a chance.
"The team is healthy and willing, but still the way it happened against Chelsea, we have to think deeply about because it is not the first time and (we have) to respond in a proper way on Tuesday."
While Wenger has been left to scratch his head over the sequence of heavy defeats, Gunners central defender Per Mertesacker has a theory.
Saturday’s 6-0 thrashing followed a worrying pattern, with the 6-3 loss to City and 5-1 hammering at Liverpool also coming in lunchtime matches.
"I don’t know why, but it looks like we don’t fancy early kick-offs away," Mertesacker said.
"It looks like we are going to have to apply to the FA to not play at 12.45 away. That would help us a lot."
Wenger’s 1,000th match could hardly have got off to a worse start as Chelsea scored twice in the opening eight minutes through Samuel Eto’o and Andre Schurrle.
There was controversy when Kieran Gibbs was sent off for a handball committed by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the 17th minute, but there was no doubt it was a penalty and Eden Hazard put Chelsea 3-0 up from the spot before an Oscar brace and Mohamed Salah’s first Chelsea goal completed the rout.
Referee Andre Marriner has apologised for sending off Gibbs in error, with the suspension now likely to be moved onto Oxlade-Chamberlain, who admitted his guilt to the referee at the time but was waved away.
Arsenal could nevertheless appeal against any sanction against Oxlade-Chamberlain as it looked as if Hazard’s shot was actually going just wide, so the offence was not technically preventing a clear goalscoring opportunity.
Wenger said: "You would not like to see Gibbs suspended because he has done nothing.
"The first injustice would be that he had been sent off and then on top of that he would be suspended, (so) of course that would be wrong."