Wenger relieved fans didn’t turn on team in draw with City

Wenger relieved fans didn't turn on team in draw with City

LONDON — After Arsenal twice conceded against Manchester City, Arsene Wenger was apprehensive.

“At 1-0 down and 2-1 down, just before halftime, our fans could have turned against us,” Wenger said. “I think they were absolutely sensational and helped the team today get through those difficult moments.”

Not that there was too much to celebrate after Sunday’s 2-2 draw in the Premier League. A fifth loss in six league games would have darkened the mood further around the Emirates Stadium, but a point still leaves Arsenal treading water far from the Champions League places.

Man City remains seven points ahead in fourth place, with 10 games to go for Arsenal, including one in hand over Guardiola’s side. It leaves Wenger’s enviable record of securing 20 successive seasons of Champions League qualification under threat.

Within that atmosphere, it’s hard for Arsenal or Wenger to contemplate any announcement yet that the embattled manager is extending his 21-year reign. But the smattering of protests that did erupt on Sunday was restricted to publicity-seeking stunts outside the Emirates Stadium. And Wenger hopes the resilience demonstrated against City is a positive sign for the closing weeks of the season as the manager’s contract winds down.

Far from capitulating as so often in recent years at Arsenal, Theo Walcott wiped out Leroy Sane’s City fifth-minute opener. Although Sergio Aguero immediately fired City back in front, Shkodran Mustafi restored parity eight minutes into the second half and Arsenal protected the point.

“We started with quite a high level of anxiety and we are punished straight away,” Wenger said of Sane’s close-range finish after racing onto Kevin De Bruyne’s long ball. “It was a mental test and overall you could see that the team was touched on the confidence front, the fluency in our game suffered.”

Then the Gunners recovered.

“We have shown some mental strength,” Wenger said, “and that will help us to come back to our natural fluency.”

City also needs a confidence-booster after a third consecutive league draw that left Guardiola deeply frustrated.

“After the first half, we score a goal, forgot to play,” Guardiola said in a blunt assessment. “We missed a little bit, forgot a little bit to attack. That’s why in the first half Arsenal was better. Of course, we had the chance to make the counterattacks, but we missed easy balls and when this happens, you cannot control the ball.

“The second half was much better, especially when Yaya (Toure) went in (off the bench for Raheem Sterling), because he has this huge personality to play.”

City’s next game is also in London on Wednesday at Chelsea, whose lead was trimmed to seven points on Saturday after losing at home to Crystal Palace. Second-placed Tottenham beat Burnley.

___

SWANSEA 0, MIDDLESBROUGH 0

The scrap to stay in the Premier League was the focus of Sunday’s other game. Just like in Arsenal’s meeting with Manchester City, a point did little to help either Swansea or Middlesbrough.

Swansea is only a point and a place above the relegation zone, while Middlesbrough is five points behind the south Wales club with a game in hand.

Rob Harris, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Choral Extravaganza brings valley choirs together

Sunday concert features six choirs singing together

Share a Smile Telethon hits the mark

The 38th annual OSNS Child and Youth Development Centre telethon in the books

Counsellor sees need for treatment centre regulations

An addictions counsellor sees need for regulations

Biosphere designation boosts national park drive

Certification outlines conservation as key part of sustainable tourism development

Visiting Vees pound West Kelowna Warriors

The Vees got hat tricks from two players en route to an 11-3 win

Drones used in search for clues about missing women

A volunteer search party was supported by professional drone operators

Start on time: Canucks looking to shake first-period struggles

Canucks centre Bo Horvat said the formula for getting a leg up is there for everyone to see

COMMUTER ALERT: Snowfall warnings in effect across B.C.

Travelling this weekend? Check the forecasts before hitting the road

Choral Extravaganza brings valley choirs together

Sunday concert features six choirs singing together

Tips for keeping your personal data safe, from the experts

It’s important to keep your ‘online footprint’ safe

Lights to turn blue ahead of funeral for fallen Abbotsford police officer

Buildings across B.C. are going blue Saturday night in honour of Const. John Davidson

Ride-share pioneer drives up quietly to B.C. battleground

Lyft approaches B.C. without Uber bombast, eyes small towns

Boomer radio expands

Kelowna resident Allen Holender continues to expand his network

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

Most Read