Arsenal must improve says Arsene Wenger

Arsene Wenger is confident his side can still reach the Carling Cup final - but conceded they must turn in a much-improved performance in the second leg to overcome Ipswich.

Wenger fielded a strong side at Portman Road but still saw the npower Championship strugglers pick up a 1-0 win thanks to Tamas Priskin's late finish.

The Tractor Boys were handed a humiliating 7-0 hiding at Chelsea in the FA Cup just three days earlier but merited their win against a sloppy Gunners side who looked toothless in front of goal.

Wenger's problems were not limited to his attack as Priskin gave centre-halves Johan Djourou and Laurent Koscielny a torrid evening but the Frenchman has backed his misfiring side to reach Wembley.

Arsenal are without a trophy in six years and Wenger admitted some of his squad looked tired at Portman Road.

He said: "I believe we can turn it around but we had a warning.

"We will have to produce a different performance at home.

"We had a lot of the ball but didn't do enough with it.

"Ipswich defended with heart and hurt us on the counter attack, they showed that you can have 70% of the ball without coming out on top.

"You have to give Ipswich credit. They fought for this win.

"We rely a lot on our sharp and crisp passing and that was a problem.

"We looked in control in the first half but looked much more vulnerable after the break. I put that down to fatigue."

Wenger has been linked with a move for former Gunner Matt Upson at West Ham but refused to comment on the move.

However, with a Champions League tie with Barcelona on the horizon and the Barclays Premier League run-in looming nearer, Wenger's back four looks dangerously light of cover.

He added: "Let's not think that we lost the game because we haven't bought a central defender.

"We lost the game because we didn't play as well as we can.

"We have only two central defenders and we are short but I do not want to speak about any particular name.

"Frankly I am just disappointed about our defeat. It is early to talk about a player coming in.

"We have nine games in January and it happens sometimes that you don't always play well in every game.

"As a team we did not have the performance we wanted. We were below our usual level in every department and it would be unfair to put the blame in the defence.

"When you play in one half the long ball has 50 yards to be dangerous."

For Ipswich caretaker manager Ian McParland, the win was the perfect send-off as he leaves the club.

Paul Jewell takes charge this morning and will inherit one of the game's brightest young talents in Connor Wickham.

The 17-year-old striker was asked to play wide by McParland and was impressive throughout to add to a reputation McParland feels he deserves.

He said: "Connor's a young lad. People forget he's only 17 and heap a lot of things on young shoulders.

"He's learning the game. He's not the finished article, but if coaches get hold of him, he's got the attributes to be a top player.

"When he gets older, he could be unplayable. It'll take as long as it takes."



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