Stoke 3 Arsenal 2: Arsene Wenger admits Arsenal were a 'bit soft' following dramatic defeat at the Britannia

The Gunners fought back from 3-0 down but could draw level

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The Independent Football

Arsene Wenger blamed his “soft” and “inexperienced” defence for his Arsenal side’s humiliating defeat at Stoke yesterday.

Peter Crouch put Stoke ahead after just 19 seconds, and the Gunners conceded two more goals from Bojan Krkic and Jonathan Walters before half-time.

 Wenger, who was the target for some vociferous abuse from the home fans, admitted: “Stoke started strongly and we were not decisive enough in the defensive challenges.

“From then on we gave them an early present. We put a lot of energy into the game and in the second half we had good opportunities to come back but we couldn’t. Overall we put a lot of energy into this game, like we have always done recently, but unfortunately we missed our start. When we started to respond it was late in the game.

“They started strong, you have to give them credit for that. We were a bit inexperienced at the back. We couldn’t play [Koscielny] or Monreal and altogether we were a bit soft to cope with what they offered us.”

 In the absence of Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal, Wenger started with Hector Bellerin at right-back and Calum Chambers at centre-back.

 

Wenger conspicuously remained on the bench for the majority of the game, trying to shield himself from the crowd.

As he admitted wryly: “They love me so much here that I didn’t want to give them an opportunity to show me their love.”

Arsenal looked slightly more determined after the interval, fighting back through goals from Santi Cazorla’s penalty and Aaron Ramsey, but their momentum was halted by the a second yellow card for Chambers.

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Alexis Sanchez holds his head after the 3-2 defeat to Stoke

 

Wenger criticised the decision, saying: “If Chambers has to go off today, I can watch the game with you and find more players who had to go too. I don’t think Chambers deserved to be sent off compared to some other people who put arms and elbows in faces.”

Wenger was asked about Chelsea’s 2-1 defeat at Newcastle, meaning his 2003-04 Arsenal are still the only side to go a full Premier League season unbeaten.

He said: “We have nothing to do with that. Chelsea is Chelsea, Arsenal is Arsenal.”

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