'Flat' Gunners confuse Wenger

'Flat' Gunners confuse Wenger

Published Apr. 3, 2011 11:28 a.m. ET

Arsene Wenger was at a loss to explain Arsenal's "flat" performance in their frustrating 0-0 draw at home to 10-man Blackburn on Saturday.

However, Wenger has refused to give up the Premier League title chase.

The Gunners - who now trail leaders Manchester United by seven points with match in hand - had plenty of possession at the Emirates, but were unable to really test Paul Robinson.

Rovers - who had lost five of the last eight matches - grew in confidence and survived the sending off of midfielder Steven Nzonzi to earn a useful point in their battle against relegation.


With United having coming from behind to win at West Ham earlier this afternoon, Arsenal could not afford another off day following two successive draws before the international break - but that is exactly what transpired.

It had been a positive start by the Gunners, with fit again Theo Walcott looking lively down the right.

However, after Rovers weathered the early onslaught, they dug in and were good value for a battling point.

Wenger was at a loss to explain the lacklustre display which resulted in a costly third successive draw.

"It was a frustrating performance because we had no pace in our game. Overall it was a flat performance with a lack of energy level, a lack of sharpness. It was quite a big concern to see what we have seen today," he said.

"It is difficult to identify one special thing.

"I felt we started okay and after our game became flat. Very few players looked to have the resources to put the pace up in the game.

"Part of it is down to the fact that Blackburn defended well but I don't put the majority of reasons down to that. I feel it is more down to our poor offensive performance today."

Despite the blow of seeing three other chances of silverware fall by the wayside in the past month, Wenger is not about to give up on overhauling United just yet.

However, the Gunners boss accepts his team must rediscover that winning feeling.

"We have to focus on our performance, not on Manchester United. Before we speak about the title I believe we have to come back to a good level of performance."

Wenger added: "I fear nothing, I am concerned about our performance today.

"I just say that before we speak about the title we have to focus on our performance level, because it was not good enough today.

"That is our first concern. After that we can see, but our performance was flat, so we have to come back to a better level."

Wenger elected to leave captain Cesc Fabregas on the bench for an hour, the Spain midfielder having been out for several weeks with a hamstring problem.

"It was a difficult decision but you could see that he still has some concern," Wenger said.

"He was fit, but there was some still reluctance in his head, so I decided not to start him.

"Cesc had a few setbacks, so he did not know completely if he could play 90 minutes."

Blackburn moved up to 14th after Saturday's results, but are only two points clear of the drop zone.

Nevertheless, Rovers boss Steve Kean felt his team are showing progress.

"We set out a plan to make sure their midfield three did not get as much time on the ball as they like and we did that well in the first half," he said.

"When we lost a man we thought 'here we go', but we showed good togetherness and the lads were tremendous with a fantastic appetite to get something.

"It is a very important point and keeps our momentum going."

On the sending-off, when Nzonzi was shown a straight red card for a two-footed challenge on Laurent Koscielny after 76 minutes, the Rovers boss admitted it was a decision which could have gone either way.

"When I first saw it looked a bit nasty, but when I've seen it again got some of the ball," Kean said.

"But it is one of those which is sometimes a yellow and sometimes a red.

"The player is devastated because he is not a malicious player and thought he made a genuine attempt for a 50/50 ball."