Against a team with better finishers, Arsenal would have paid the ultimate price for a laid back second half display at the Emirates on Tuesday night but Wenger’s believes the psychological and physical consequences of the North London derby defeat had a major role in the Gunners end to the game.
“Yes it was a bit in their head, especially in the second half in the legs.” Wenger said post-match, per Arsenal.com.
“Tottenham lost in the last minute as well. It was a very intense game on Saturday and three days later, it’s not easy.”
Nigel Pearson’s relegation battlers actually started the game brightly and came close to taking the lead twice in the opening minutes through the effervescent Riyad Mahrez but two first half goals from the Gunners appeared to have killed the game off as a contest.
The second half resumed with the home side still in some control but the visitors would pile some concerted pressure as the hour mark was approached, eventually punishing some edginess on the part of the Gunners back four. Only Everton and Swansea had lost more points from losing positions in the League this season and with more and more attack from the Foxes, it looked very possible that an equalizer would eventually come.
Some wasteful finishing on their part ensured the Gunners safely wrapped up the points but Wenger did agree that his team were too nervy with the memory of the last result, but at the end happy to have secured the points.
“Yes, towards the end but it is always like that when it’s 2-1. I feel that we were in control for the first half but when we were in control they had one or two good chances on the counter-attack. In the second half we lost our cohesion, our technical superiority and Leicester was always dangerous going forward. They are very quick in transition from defence into attack. At 2-1 we became a bit nervous but overall what was important for us was to get the three points.”
Responding to a defeat is always about winning and though the stature of the opposition – bottom of the log – may have raised expectations on the part of the Gunners in finishing them off with some style, it was way more important to have the necessary win to reverse the last result while facing the challenge of the FA Cup with a more positive mindset.
A couple of players will be rested for the weekend clash against Boro and it will be good for their confidence to know they were not cast out because of a failure to win but as a reward to catch their breaths and renew their strength.
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