Mixed emotions for Wenger as Arsenal share spoils with Spurs
ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger admitted a sense of both regret and relief after a late goal from substitute Kieran Gibbs earned a 1-1 draw against Tottenham as his side missed the chance to head into the international break top of the Barclays Premier League.
The Gunners needed a response after being thumped 5-1 away to Bayern Munich in their midweek Champions League tie.
However, it was Spurs who had the better of the first half as Harry Kane continued his resurgence with a neat finish after punishing a high Arsenal defensive line.
The Gunners – missing the likes of Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Hector Bellerin, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck to injury – eventually levelled when Gibbs bundled in a first league goal since March 2012 on 77 minutes to set up a grandstand finale.
However, Wenger’s side could not conjure up a winner, so remain level with Manchester City, who earlier drew 0-0 at Aston Villa.
“It was a very intense game with complete commitment from both sides. The team have shown great mental resource, we refused to give up,” said Wenger, who revealed midfielder Santi Cazorla had been suffering from dizziness during the first half.
“When you are 1-0 down, it is a mixture or relief and regret because if we were really clinical we would have won it in the last 15 minutes – (Olivier) Giroud had the chances to score. But if I try to be fair I must say the point is maybe a fair result.”
Despite the frustration of not taking maximum points, Arsenal remain in sold Premier League form.
Wenger said: “If you look at a longer distance in the last six games we have had five wins and one draw.
“Overall I am disappointed that we haven’t won the game, but if you look at the recent period as a block it can happen that in six games you can drop points.”
The Gunners boss added: “But we have shown character today because we were a bit on the ropes and we responded.
“Every time we have a dissspointment I feel we respond well in the game after.
“When you look at the results again today you see Villa-City was 0-0, Liverpool lost and we played 1-1.
“It just shows you that the championship will be extremely difficult for everybody.
“The mental qualities can have a big influence in the future and I think we need these qualities.”
Wenger hopes Cazorla will show no ill effects from his dizzy spell.
“I was sitting there thinking do I take him off or not? You never know, maybe it will get better. At half-time I took him off, and in the second half we had a bit better balance,” Wenger said.
“He is not sick, he was just dizzy and could not move, you could see that on the pitch, Cazorla, who is usually the guide in our game, didn’t get the ball.
“I hope it is nothing bad, but it does not look like it, because he says he is alright now.”
Tottenham continue to make progress under Mauricio Pochettino, with defeat on the opening day against Manchester United their only Premier League loss.
“With the way we played, and the chances we created, I think we deserved to win the game,” said the Argentinian.
“I am very proud of my players in the way we performed and the character we showed because having to play three games in six days is always difficult.
“But I am very pleased with the players, because we showed maturity in a very young squad.
Pochettino added: “We are very happy with the way our philosophy is developing and today was a good example to show the belief in the way we want to play and from that, our supporters can be very proud.
“It is important not to set a limit, we are ambitious people and always think about winning the next game, but the end of the season is far away.”