Swansea angers Wenger

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

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

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