LONDON — Arsenal lost 1-0 to Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley on Saturday as Arsene Wenger‘s men saw their top four chances slip further away.
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Harry Kane scored the only goal of the game to take his tally to seven goals in seven Premier League games against the Gunners, as the local lad once again haunted Arsenal, the club who released him at the age of eight.
Speaking to reporters after the game Wenger believed his Arsenal side should have won the game by half time, even if Spurs dominated after the break.
“Possession is 50-50, basically, in this game. The game should have been finished at half time. We missed opportunities on counter attacks which are not missable at our level, with the final ball,” Wenger said. “In the second half, we should have lost the game in the early part of the second half by more than one goal. We were destabilized by the goal they scored and they had two or three opportunities they could have scored. In the final part of the game we should have come back to 1-1, which was maybe not enough but better than 1-0 down. Overall it’s a bit mixed feelings because for long periods in the first half, with a bit more quality in the first half and final pass we win this game.”
He does have a point about how dangerous Arsenal looked on the counter in the first half.
Mesut Ozil, Hector Bellerin, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang raced forward time and time again but that final ball or final shot was wayward. Still, it’s a bit of a stretch to say that Arsenal should have wrapped the game up.
Kane missed a glorious chance in the first half and Spurs were so dominant after they went ahead, Mauricio Pochettino could feel aggrieved not to have won by three or four goals.
Asked about Arsenal’s top four hopes, Wenger conceded that the Gunners are up against as they will be at least six points from the top four by the end of the weekend and possibly more if Chelsea and Liverpool take care of business.
“What happens today, it is a game we couldn’t afford to lose,” Wenger said. “That makes it much more difficult now but we have to fight. As long as we have a mathematical chance, that’s why you come out with a game like that, where you know there is more at stake than just the derby. I said that before the game. That’s why it is so disappointing, to lose the game the way we lost it.”
Despite their slack second half display, Alexandre Lacazette missed a glorious chance in stoppage time when he was clean through but slotted wide of Hugo Lloris‘ far post and given Spurs’ wastefulness you got the sense Arsenal were going to nick a point.
Wenger was then asked if Arsenal were close to the point where they could forget about finishing in the top four and focus instead on winning the Europa League and qualifying for the Champions League that way.
Let’s just say he’s not a fan of that route.
“It’s too early. Football is not about switching off for three games and switch it on for one game. Man United decided that once they were in the semifinal. We are far from the semifinal. We have to fight to have a chance to come back and overall for me it is a very disappointing result because the priority is to be in the Champions League through the Premier League. I am not a great fan of being a Europa League qualifier for the Champions League. I don’t think it is right. If it’s an opportunity we will have to take it as well, but the priority is to be in the Premier League.”