Arsene Wenger has admitted that Arsenal need to beat Liverpool on Saturday after two damaging home wins against big sides.
Arsenal were knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Chelsea, losing 2-0, just one week after their 2-1 Champions League loss to Borussia Dortmund. After a strong start to the season, Arsenal need to show they can beat the best and Wenger demanded that his players to respond against Liverpool - third placed in the Premier League - on Saturday evening.
“It's better to win,” Wenger said of their recent run. “It's difficult, but that's part of the season. We know the games. We have to respond well against Liverpool. We are in a strong position in the league and have a good opportunity at home, and we have to turn this round. Away from home we are very solid, but at home you know it is important and vital to win the big games.”
Against both Chelsea and Dortmund, Arsenal conceded sloppy early goals and Wenger said they need to put that out of their mind in future. “It is not easy to correct at 1-0 down, but it is feasible. We have not to let that play too much on our minds. Just go to the next game, play good football and be focused. We were a bit nervous. Tonight we kicked some balls out that were not needed at the back.”
Wenger insisted that, overall, his team - still top of the Premier League - were playing well and that they should not be harshly judged too soon.
“Let's not go too quick to a conclusion. If you take the points we have made since 1 January, it's more than anyone else. On a longer distance, you'll see more of the quality of the team than in the last two games. It's difficult to swallow what happened to us in the last week, but the mistakes are so big they can be corrected. We have to keep the basis of our game and go into the next one.”
“In football It is always difficult to be definite. People go quickly to definite conclusions. After the first game against Villa we were relegated. Today we are in a strong position in the league. It's how we rid ourselves of these mistakes without losing the belief in our qualities. That is what is at stake.”
Chelsea's man of the match Juan Mata was delighted, returning to the team for just his seventh start of the season and marking the occasion with his side's second goal. “I always enjoy being on the pitch and I’m proud we could win for the fans. We’ve played City and Arsenal this week, two of the best teams in Europe, and we’ve beaten them. That shows we’re ready to fight for titles,” he said.
Mata praised Chelsea’s display as “professional” as they hardly ever looked troubled by an Arsenal side which did have attacking quality in it. It was an organised Chelsea performance reminiscent of the first Mourinho era at the club.
“It was a professional performance,” Mata said. “We tried to do our best. It was difficult because Arsenal have been playing really well this season in the Champions League and the Premier League. It is a pleasure for us to come here with so many supporters and we’re all happy. Arsenal will try to win all the time and create chances. With players like Santi Cazorla and Mesut Özil. So it was an important goal to make the distance greater between us.”
Mata insisted that his only focus was playing on the pitch and did not make a point about his relative lack of games this season when asked. “I just try to play and enjoy it. The manager is the one who makes the decision. I will always try my best for this club.”
Azpilicueta, who made just the third start of his season, was also delighted to start and to score. “It was a pleasure for me to score my first Chelsea goal,” the Spanish right-back explained. “I’ve been looking for that for a long time. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to make that sort of run, from our box to theirs, but I thought I could be there with a chance of scoring. I arrived. When I had the chance I attacked it and took it.”