Wenger tells Arsenal to smarten up

Manager concerned by 'naivety' which allowed AZ their last-minute equaliser

The Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger has admitted his side were "naive" in conceding a late equaliser against AZ Alkmaar in the the Champions League on Tuesday, but insists they remain in pole position to qualify for the next stages.

"We are still in a strong position," said the Frenchman, after David Mendes da Silva scored an injury-time equaliser to cancel out Cesc Fabregas's first-half goal. "We have three games left, and I believe to win one game will qualify us. What I want is for us to continue to play like we do, focus to play better. We are still learning. You do not need to give a free-kick away on an offside in the last minute. We were caught a bit naively on the second ball – but that can happen sometimes."

The defender Gaël Clichy admitted that the late equaliser was a blow after Arsenal had once again dominated proceedings in Europe.

"It was frustrating to concede in the last minute of the game," he said. "They are a good team and played well even though they did not have many chances – they kept the ball quite well. It is a disappointment to lose two points. It feels like a defeat when you concede a goal like this. I thought we played well and had a few chances to kill the game. So, yes, it's disappointment but we have to move on.

"You still have seven points from three games," Clichy added, a tally that leaves the side one point clear of Olympiakos at the top of Group H. "The situation is not too bad but we always want to be the best and we could have gone back to London with three points. But it's okay."

Asked whether the side needed to be more ruthless when they are dominating matches, the Frenchman insisted that scoring goals was not Arsenal's problem. "Sometimes you score goals like we have done recently [40 goals in 14 games]," he said. "This was not the night to get four. Once again, there are still positives from this game. We have one more game to win and we want to finish top of the group."

With Liverpool and Barcelona suffering defeats and Internazionale held to a draw, the Champions League looks as tough a test as ever, and Clichy is determined to learn from Tuesday's disappointment and minimise the risk of a similar upset for the north Londoners. "We drew against AZ, but like I said, not many teams will come here and win," he said. "We don't care about the other teams but it shows you anything can happen, you have to focus from the first minute to the last."

Striker Robin van Persie is also confident of making progress, both in Europe and in the Premier League, where he believes that the big four's apparent susceptibility to defeats at the hands of so-called lesser sides stands Arsenal in good stead this term. "We're very encouraged by this [trend] because when you look at last weekend, Liverpool lost three points, Chelsea lost ... we've played eight games now, won six so it's looking good for us," the Dutchman said. "As long as we stay consistent against the smaller teams. We need to keep winning the three points against them."

Van Persie maintains that the squad is also well set to avoid a repeat of the poor run of results that Arsenal suffered this time last year, when they lost three games in the Premier League.

"Yeah, last season we had four draws as well back to back, [actually five in January and February] so we have to avoid that. Time will show if we are stronger now."

Next up for Wenger's men is a Premier League trip to West Ham on Sunday, where the hosts will be desperate for a result as they look to move away from the bottom of the table.

Crucial to Arsenal's continued good form will be Fabregas, who has endured a tough time of late, with family reasons prompting his withdrawal from the most recent Spain squad. But Clichy claims that the added pressure has brought the best out of the midfielder. "In the dressing room and the pitch, he has been the same – a good example for everyone," said Clichy. "Sometimes, you go through bad moments in your private life and maybe it's one for him. But he showed his character and I hope everything will be good for him and his family. On the pitch, he is still the big man."

Group H

Results so far: Olympiakos 1 AZ Alkmaar 0, Standard Liège 2 Arsenal 3; Arsenal 2 Olympiakos 0, AZ Alkmaar 1 Standard Liège 1; AZ Alkmaar 1 Arsenal 1, Olympiakos 2 Standard Liège 1.

Arsenal remaining games: 4 Nov: AZ (h); 24 Nov: Standard Liège (h); 9 Dec: Olympiakos (a).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
Tax now accounts for ‘nearly 80%’ of the price of a bottle of whisky
news

Arts and Entertainment
Peppa Pig wearing her golden boots
film

"Oink! Oink! Hee hee hee!" First interview with the big-screen star

Life and Style
tech

Biohacking group hopes technology will lead people to think about even more dystopian uses

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee