Manchester United 1 Arsenal 0: Arsene Wenger refuses to blame virus which affected five of his players, including Per Mertesacker and Tomas Rosicky
Arsenal were without Per Mertesacker and Tomas Rosicky due to illness which also affected a number of squad members
Monday 11 November 2013
Arsene Wenger refused to blame Arsenal's Premier League defeat at Manchester United on a virus that swept through the Gunners camp last week.
Arsenal saw their lead at the top of the table cut to two points as Robin van Persie's first-half header proved enough for United to extend an unbeaten home record against the north London giants that dates back to 2006.
That Van Persie scored from a corner only underlined the absence of Per Mertesacker who, along with Tomas Rosicky, was ruled out of the Old Trafford clash completely.
Others played despite suffering the after-effects of the problem.
Yet Wenger declined to make any excuses for his side's first reverse since the opening day of the season.
"A virus can happen the whole season, it doesn't mean you have to lose the game," said Wenger.
"The players declared themselves fit. When they play, they play.
"There is no excuse."
Instead, Wenger cited a nervousness in his team during the crucial opening stages for handing United an initiative they could not wrest back despite dominating territorially in the second half.
"Until the end we looked like we can score but we lacked that quality in our final ball and the sharpness maybe to finish crosses," said the Frenchman.
With Chelsea needing an injury-time equaliser to claim a point at home to West Brom, Tottenham losing on home soil to Newcastle and Manchester City suffering yet another away defeat, this time at Sunderland, the Premier League is turning into the most unpredictable of affairs.
This inconsistency, coupled with Southampton's presence in a Champions League slot has led to accusations of a sub-standard competition.
It is not a view Wenger agrees with.
"I don't know about that," he said.
"Southampton are close to the top, but they have three players in the England squad.
"In addition, Luke Shaw is not far away and they say (Nathanial) Clyne is the same.
"Maybe the whole quality of the Premier League has gone up.
"I don't think necessarily players like Van Persie are not as good as last season or two seasons ago."
Latest in Sport
England vs Lithuania: Wayne Rooney rules out repeat of boxing celebration after son Kai repeats it at school and focuses on goalscoring record
Marco Reus becomes Arsenal transfer target to replace Theo Walcott
Paul Scholes: It's amazing Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick has so few caps for England
New kits for 2015/16: Have the Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Barcelona strips been leaked?
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: Zab Judah denies flooring Mayweather during sparring as he prepares for 2 May
- 1 Germanwings crash: Police make 'significant discovery' at home of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz
- 3 Zayn Malik already working on solo material, just days after quitting One Direction
- 4 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 5 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash live: Andreas Guenter Lubitz intentionally crashed flight 9525 into the Alps in act of mass murder and suicide – latest