After being on the wrong end of back-to-back 3-0 results at the hands of Manchester City, Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech insisted it was more of the Sky Blues’ brilliance rather than the Gunners’ inadequacies that saw them emerge well-deserved winners on both occasions.
“I think in the first half we were much better organised than at Wembley,” the veteran shot-stopper reflected after the game at the Emirates Stadium as he continued, “I thought that when we had the ball, we had intention to play and put them under pressure. We were more aggressive but I have to say that in the first half we were beaten by a brilliant team with individual quality and obviously with confidence”.
City raced into a 1-0 lead at Wembley Stadium in the Carabao Cup Final on Sunday after a calamitous Shkodran Mustafi error allowed Sergio Aguero to race through on goal and second-half goals from Vincent Kompany and David Silva confirmed that first trophy of the English season went to the Blue half of Manchester.
And on Thursday, at the Emirates, the Gunners were renewing their rivalry with the Sky Blues for a Premier League tie and while they would have been itching to get one over the runaway leaders, a poor start to the game cost them again.
Sky Blues winger Leroy Sane was in terrific form, terrorising the Arsenal defender as he set up Bernardo Silva for a delightful opener early on before David Silva chipped in after as sweeping move to make it 2-0 and Sane would get his name on the score-sheet with a tap-in with little over half-an-hour played.
“I think that in the first half that was the big difference because when they scored the first goal, I thought they took a lot of confidence out of us and we took some time to get out of it. They carried on and they scored another two goals.
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“At half-time we were looking for a reaction. We should have scored second half and we probably could have had another go later on. But second half, they probably wanted to protect their lead but we put them under more pressure,” Cech stated.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, in his post-match presser, admitted the Gunners are suffering from a shortage of confidence and Cech echoed his manager’s sentiments as he blamed his side’s profligacy in front of goal on the fact that the squad is running low on self-belief at the moment.
“Well, I think I said that it’s confidence overall.When you are going through difficult moments you take a little thought more than you should and you do probably little things with less speed than a player in confidence. I think that was probably the case.
Despite being 3-0 down at half-time, the Gunners didn’t give up and would have a golden chance to reduce the deficit early on in the second-half when awarded a penalty. However, club-record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang failed to beat Ederson from the spot and City would hold on to their clean-sheet fairly comfortably from thereon.
“Then you miss a penalty, that can happen in any game, so I think that this moment gave them the reassurance and it became a game where we pushed for a goal but we didn’t find one. It was the difference because in the first half, as I said, it was their individual and team brilliance and the confidence as a team. At the moment they are flying high and you can see that,” added the 35-year-old custodian.