May 23 2013 Latest news:
Monday, October 22, 2012
Arsene Wenger warned his squad he will not tolerate any hint of complacency after conceding that Norwich wanted this Premier League win more than his Gunners.
Wenger’s fulsome praise towards Chris Hughton’s men contrasted sharply with stiff criticism of his own side after they dropped far short of the impressive standards set in the opening months of the campaign.
“Maybe we underestimated a little bit the difficulty we would face here and after that the first thing that has to be right at the top level is the concentration. It was a shock for the team today,” he said. “I must say as well that we have to give credit to Norwich. They played well. They completely committed on every ball and they deserved their win.
“We were not in the game at the start. The concentration was not there and we only started to get into the game when they scored. It was the type of game where it was important not to be 1-0 down because they showed good spirit and organisation. Our offensive performance today was very, very poor.
“We didn’t win the decisive fights and some of our possession was negative and not going anywhere. Norwich gave a good performance. They defended very, very well. They were focused and committed.”
Wenger’s summer imports, Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski, typified the general sluggishness that Wenger accepts is likely to be found out more often than not in the competitive Premier League.
“Yes, they were not at their best physically, like many players,” he said. “Cazorla played in Belarus and then against France on Tuesday night (for Spain) and he was a bit jaded today, yes. It is not an excuse. We have to deal with that. If we had more players on international duty than Norwich that means we have better players, and if you are a better player then you have to show it on a football pitch. If you are professionals then you have to prepare to be ready for the next performance.
“In the Premier League you have to be ready for a fight and there should never be any surprises. I feel if you sum up how many chances we had today and how long we had the ball then there is a big, big difference in the amount of possession we had and the amount of chances we created.
“We lacked a bit of sharpness at the start and overall we missed what makes success at the top level - that is focus and sharpness. We should have been ready for what we were likely to face today.”
Gunners’ keeper Vito Mannone’s first half spill from Alex Tettey’s thunderbolt was ruthlessly punished by Grant Holt, but Wenger opted not to single out his young Italian keeper.
“No, I do not blame anybody. We made many, many mistakes today. If you count them all you would have a job to do,” he said. “We have to put a bad performance behind us and recognise that today was not good enough and come out on Wednesday with a different performance.
“The attitude to this point has been excellent but today it was not at the level it had been until now. That is the first time this season we have been a little below par - we were way below today. I hope we will have a positive reaction.”
Wenger confirmed England starlet Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will not be considered for this week’s Champions League test against Schalke at the Emirates after a nine-minute second half cameo cut was short by a hip problem.
Wenger will also resist any temptation to fast-track Jack Wilshere back into the fold after his long term lay-off with knee and ankle problems. The talented midfielder was on the bench at Carrow Road and is scheduled to feature in Arsenal’s latest development fixture.
“We have to be careful with him because he has not played for 14 months,” said the Frenchman. “I would have liked to use him here, but the game was pretty intense at the end. He will play on Monday with the reserves and he needs games. Then we will see where we go from there.
“With Alex, we think it is a problem with his hip. It will not be long term. He will not play Wednesday but it should be a week, maybe. We were unlucky with his injury, but that is what can happen.
“You can always find excuses when you lose a game but overall we have to stand up and say Norwich wanted it more than us.”