Swansea angers Wenger
LONDON — Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger brushed off his side’s 1-0 loss to Swansea City as “an accident” and challenged his players to atone when they visit Manchester United on Sunday.
Arsenal dominated Monday’s game at the Emirates Stadium, but having been kept at bay by their former goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, they capitulated in the 85th minute when David Ospina was unable to keep out a header from Swansea substitute Bafetimbi Gomis.
United can dislodge third-place Arsenal from the automatic Champions League qualifying positions if they beat them at the weekend and Wenger’s annoyance was plain during a post-match press conference in which he said Swansea had “refused to play completely and just defended”.
“We still have a game in hand,” said the Frenchman, whose team play host to Sunderland on 20 May before tackling West Bromwich Albion on the season’s final day.
“What is crucial is to respond on Sunday and show it is an accident today (Monday). That is the most important (thing).”
Arsenal had won nine of their previous 10 games, only dropping points in a goalless draw with Chelsea, and fielded an unchanged team for the fifth game in succession for the first time since January 1994.
It took until the 59th minute for them to register a shot on target and although they mustered eight more, there was no way past Fabianski, who saved from Olivier Giroud, Santi Cazorla, Theo Walcotttwice, Nacho Monreal, Aaron Ramsey and Alexis Sanchez.
“We scored plenty of goals until recently,” added Wenger, who felt that his forwards had been guilty of “rushing” their finishing.
“In the last two home games we didn’t score and that’s of course frustrating when you have so much of the ball, as we did tonight, and you play with such accuracy around the box.
“But they defended well. They came just to defend, with four defenders and six midfielders. They defended, that’s it. If you win, you’re fantastic. If you lose people say to you, ‘Why did you not play?’“
Having beaten Arsenal 2-1 at the Liberty Stadium in November, Swansea became only the second team to do the double over the London club and Manchester United in the Premier League era after West Ham United (2006-07) and Chelsea (2009-10).
Swansea manager Garry Monk took exception to Wenger’s criticism of his side’s approach and said their victory proved that they had become a more multi-faceted team.
“If we didn’t play, I don’t know how we got three points,” he said.
“If you watched all our games, we’ve won games totally dominating possession.
The No 1 thing for me is that we try to do that in as many games as possible. The players know that.
“But there are times where you have to be adaptable and we’ve shown that time and time again this season.
“That’s the double over Arsenal. We’ve done the double over Manchester United. So if people don’t like it, it’s not my problem.”
Swansea are now just one point off seventh place, which will yield a Europa League place if Arsenal beat Aston Villa in the FA Cup final, and two points off six place, which is a guaranteed Europa League berth.
But Monk appeared less than enthused about the prospect of a resource-stretching European campaign.
“What will be will be,” he said. “It’s not my focus. I won’t lie in bed worrying about it.
“The only thing that will change in that instance will be that the planning for the summer in terms of recruitment will have to be a lot more, not that the chairman will want to hear that.
“We’ve got two games left. We’ve got a very difficult game next week against Man City. We’ll have to see where it takes us.
“I’m not one to deny it if we get there, but if not, it wasn’t to be.”
Weekend fixtures May 16: v Stoke, Tottenham v Hull, Liverpool v Crystal Palace.
May 17: Swansea v Manchester, Manchester United v Arsenal.
May 18: West Brom v Chelsea — AFP MANCHESTER — Haile Gebrselassie (pictured), considered one of athletics’ greatest distance runners, said on Sunday he was retiring from competitive running.
The Ethiopian’s long-time manager at first said it was not the end of Gebrselassie’s career, but later issued a press release saying the runner had retired from athletics.
“Running legend Haile Gebrselassie announced his retirement from competitive running at the Great Manchester Run today where he ran his last competitive race,” the statement said.
Gebrselassie was quoted as saying: “I am retiring from competitive running, not from running. You cannot stop running, this is my life. And I am still enjoying my farewell tour like today in Manchester.” His manager, Jos Hermens, could not be reached to explain the new statement.
“Yes, probably a kind of retirement!” Hermens said in a text message alerting Reuters to the new statement.
Earlier, Hermens had texted Reuters: “No, he’s not retiring; he will be in Glasgow in October. He’ll probably never retire.”
Gebrselassie, 42, had told BBC Sport he was retiring from competitive running after finishing 16th in the Great Manchester Run on Sunday. But it is not the first time he has talked about calling it quits. Gebrselassie had tearfully retired five years ago after knee problems forced him to drop out of the New York City Marathon. — Reuters
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger