Arsène Wenger has pinpointed failings in defence as the critical factor in Arsenal's lack of success in the Champions League and Premier League.
"It is the lowest week I have had here in all this time," Wenger said. "We have lost the 100 metres on a photo-finish. That's what happened. It's difficult to swallow because you have still made a good race and you finish empty-handed. It hurts deeply. Maybe for me more as I really believed that we could do it.
"We were leading at Chelsea, we were leading at Liverpool, we were leading at Manchester United, and at home against them. So we can score goals. What we could not stop is conceding goals in big games. Nine times out of 10 the guy who wins a big game is the guy who scores first, and we lost all these games after being in front. So I believe we suffered more as a team defensively than offensively."
Wenger, who has set a deadline of the end of this month to settle negotiations with the midfielder Matthieu Flamini, said: "My first target is to keep the team together. If you ask me how many players I want to buy, it's not a question of numbers, it's a question of one or two quality players."
He ruled out signing the Valencia forward David Villa, who expressed a willingness to move to the Emirates Stadium this week. "No," he said. "I feel up front I need to give time to [Nicklas] Bendtner and [Theo] Walcott because they have made big improvements. Walcott is now coming on and I have to give him a chance at some stage."
Asked if Philippe Senderos would face Reading today, Wenger said: "He's in the squad. But I feel sometimes you have to give the time to refresh mentally. He is so intense, Philippe. He is genuine and dedicated and he's disappointed by his performance at Liverpool but only time can get you over that."
Wenger said defeat in the Champions League was worse than losing to Barcelona in the 2006 final. "Against Barcelona we played with 10 men for 70 minutes. The first time you play in a final it can happen that you lose. But to go out to Liverpool after the two games we played was very, very disappointing."
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