Arsenal and Manchester City accused of lacking desire to win
Arsenal and Manchester City were accused of lacking a killer instinct following yesterday’s draw at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal are still seven points outside the Champions League qualifying spots while City — whose manager Pep Guardiola was furious his side were denied a late penalty — blew their chance to get back into the title race after Chelsea’s shock defeat by Crystal Palace.
Both teams were slammed by Gunners legend Thierry Henry, who accused them of coasting.
‘What you expect is Arsenal to try to win and I don’t think they went in like they wanted to win,’ he said.
‘At the end it became flat. They needed three points, but Arsenal were trying to save a point and City too. Arsenal are not in the top four, so to win was more vital.’
Henry was also bemused by the low-key celebrations after Arsenal’s goals. ‘I found it weird,’ he said. ‘The reaction wasn’t that great.’
Henry’s Sky Sports colleague Gary Neville sensed a lack of motivation in both sides.
‘That’s why they’re both out of the Champions League,’ he said. ‘They’ve not got the level of concentration and focus. They make mistakes and unforced errors. That’s why both are falling short at the highest level.’
Neville was particularly scathing about the Gunners, who are waiting to discover the extent of an achilles injury sustained by Laurent Koscielny in the first half.
‘Koscielny, he always goes off, he plays to half-time then goes off,’ said Neville.
‘Theo Walcott trudges off (when he’s substituted), he hasn’t played well. But his attitude is, “I’ve scored, you shouldn’t take me off”.
‘Then Mesut Ozil goes for a ball and bottles the challenge when his manager’s life is on the line. Arsene Wenger deserves Koscielny to at least have a go at staying on, for Theo to sprint off the pitch and shake hands, Ozil to go in for that 50-50.’
Wenger urged his ‘anxious’ players to use yesterday’s draw as a means to repair their confidence.
But on the day Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis told fan groups that Wenger would have to change his stewardship if, as expected, he signs a new deal, footage emerged of supporters fighting in the stadium and there were more protests against the manager.
Wenger nonetheless found reasons for optimism, saying: ‘We have shown great mental resources. We were under pressure and we responded in a united way.’
City manager Guardiola was not so upbeat after referee Andre Marriner waved play on in the closing stages after Nacho Monreal had handled in the box.
Guardiola, who confronted Marriner on the pitch after the final whistle, revealed: ‘Monreal said he touched the ball with the hand. I said to the referee, the same happened against Tottenham, the same referee.
How frustrating is it? Wow. The decisions of the referee, fortunately it’s not my business. But it’s bad.’
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