Arsenal avoided a major upset on Thursday night as they lost to Swedish outfit FK Ostersunds 1-2 but managed to progress to the UEFA Europa League last-16 by virtue of a 4-2 aggregate win and Gunners boss savaged his side’s first-half performance in the aftermath of their home loss.
“We were not at the races in the first half. I think in the second half it was much better and we should have scored a few goals,” Wenger stated at his post-match press conference in London as he continued, “Our energy was higher, our domination was consistent and we were in control in the second half”.
“In the first half we were in trouble and in danger because we were complacent, not focused and were open every time we lost the ball. We had no ideas with the ball and that’s why we were in trouble. We responded very well because we did the job to qualify, but that’s what we have to take from the night and that’s all,” the French tactician added.
The Gunners had swept aside Ostersrusnds in the first leg 3-0 and the fact that they have a Carabao Cup final with Manchester City looming large on the horizon could have made them complacent and Wenger admitted that perhaps his players thought they had the tie wrapped up before kick-off itself.
“We prepared properly and in a serious way, but you have external circumstances such as the fact we won 3-0, the fact that we have another big game on Sunday, the fact that people subconsciously think you just have to turn up to win the game.”
First-half goals from Hosam Aiesh and Ken Sama had given the visitors a shock 2-0 lead but Arsenal managed to recover somewhat as fullback Sead Kolasinac would strike early in the second-half to give the Gunners some breathing space and the North Londoners held on.
Also read: Arsene Wenger updates on Arsenal’s injuries
“Football doesn’t work like that. We played against a good side and it’s what you see in the FA Cup. Against all teams, you can be in trouble every time you’re not 100 per cent focused,” Wenger stated.