Arsene Wenger confessed yesterday that this season was the most frustrating of the last six trophy-less years. Having seen his team lose the Carling Cup final and squander a strong position in the title race, the Arsenal manager described himself as "more frustrated than ever", due to his team's proximity to their first trophy since 2005.
Arsenal lost the League Cup final in February to Birmingham City, conceding the deciding goal in the final minute. Over the following 10 days they were eliminated from the FA Cup and the Champions League and they have won one of seven Premier League games since the final, allowing Manchester United, whom they play on Sunday, to stride nine points clear of them.
When asked yesterday whether this made it his most frustrating season since 2005, Wenger agreed. "Yes, because if you look at all the numbers, it is the closest we have been," he said. "Just look at the last week, we could have had nine points quite easily against Liverpool, Tottenham and Bolton and in the end we finished with two points. We feel more frustrated than ever because we are closer than ever to win this league. Of the two trophies, the most important above all for me is the league; and this year we had the quality to win it."
Wenger has been noticeably more animated on the touchline in recent weeks, and admitted that disappointing results was "of course the main reason" for his pitch-side actions.
Wenger suggested that the last-minute League Cup final defeat undermined the players' belief, precipitating the subsequent run of poor results. "In the last two months since we lost in the Carling Cup everything has turned a little big against us," Wenger said.
"When we were on all fronts this team had fought very well and has a fantastic attitude. I just feel that after the Carling Cup we continued to be absolutely spot on with our attitude but we missed a little bit of that subconscious belief that makes you win and that frustrates you because you know that it is there and you want to fight against it."
Despite his disappointment at the season's likely yield, Wenger was clear that he did not blame his players for the lack of trophies. "The players gave everything and I am responsible for the results so if there is one to blame, it's me," he said. "I have to stand up for the results and the way that we play and the way that we behave, and that has not changed since last Sunday."
The Arsenal manager maintained, however, the confident belief that the margins between his team and a trophy-winning one were narrowing. "If you look at the numbers of the season you will see that we created as many chances as almost everybody else," he said. "The team that had the most shots on bars is Arsenal, the team that had the most penalties against is Arsenal and when you analyse you have to take a distance from that and analyse as it is really."Reuse content