Wenger rues lack of belief as Drogba strikes lucky

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The Independent Football

Didier Drogba, Arsenal's nemesis in the Community Shield a fortnight earlier, bundled in a fortuitous second-half winner for the reigning champions to leave their manager Jose Mourinho, for the second successive Sunday after an opening victory against Wigan Athletic, magnanimous in victory.

The Chelsea manager insisted that victory over last season's runners-up at Stamford Bridge would have no bearing on the title race or impact on Arsenal's scrutinised psychology.

"The result of this game does not make a champion and it doesn't mean that the loser cannot be the champion," he said. "It is just one game and three points, although it is three points for us and three away from an Arsenal team that will be with us in the fight for the championship.

"To be fair, Arsenal played reasonably well so I don't see any reason for them to believe they cannot do it. I would love them to give up now, but I don't think they will. If I was in their shoes I wouldn't panic after that performance."

The most telling criticism of the visitors, however, came from the unexpected quarter of their own manager who cited the hesitancy between Philippe Senderos and Jens Lehmann in the build-up to Drogba's 72nd-minute winner as an example of lack of conviction within his team.

"It is disappointing to lose by giving away such a cheap goal, but we lacked incisiveness, physical strength at times and also a fraction of belief," Wenger said. "We leave here disappointed at giving the game away, but I hope that gives us more self-belief because we needed it today. We gave the game away.

"There were some positives in the game, especially [Alexander] Hleb's performance in his first start, but from watching that game I feel my team should have more belief and they should not lose games like that."

Wenger also denied suggestions the summer sale of Patrick Vieira had added to any uncertainty within the Arsenal squad, and that this season represented one of transition for his club.

"I cannot accept this is a transitional phase. It is not my job to have a transitional phase," he retorted.

"We have a lot of potential here at this club, we are only two games into the season and only the future will tell how ambitious we are. I am very ambitious and I believe we can have a great season.

"I just hope today's result has the reverse effect of the defeat at Old Trafford last season and gives us more belief that we will do well."