Gun­ners fear ti­tle hope slip­ping

Daily Express - - FOOTBALL: BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE - GIDEON BROOKS

ARSE­NAL’S dress­ing room was nei­ther quiet nor har­mo­nious in the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math of Tot­ten­ham’s au­da­cious smash-and-grab at the Emi­rates on Wed­nes­day night.

But among the heated re­crim­i­na­tions be­tween se­niors for mis­takes made on the night, Em­manuel Ade­bayor re­vealed there is a gen­uine fear the Gun­ners’ ti­tle chances are un­der se­ri­ous threat al­ready.

There was irony in the fact that striker Ade­bayor in­sisted that, as tem­per­a­tures rose, sev­eral play­ers had to bite their lips for fear of say­ing some­thing that, with the hind­sight af­forded by a night’s rest, they might have had cause to re­gret.

Not least of which is the fact that he him­self had sug­gested in the build-up to the match that Spurs were “re­ally bad”, and Cesc Fabre­gas had of­fered the provoca­tive view that their neigh­bours might not even be a match for Arse­nal Ladies at the mo­ment.

But his anal­y­sis of where Arse­nal’s ti­tle pre­ten­sions now lie was equally bru­tal and to the point. And they could be summed up pretty much as fol­lows: much more of this and we can for­get it.

“There is a lot of dis­ap­point­ment be­cause we did ev­ery­thing we could but still ended up with one point,” said a frus­trated Ade­bayor.

“The sea­son is long and we have to keep go­ing, but we don’t have the right to drop points any more.

“It’s not against the top four we al­ways drop the points – this time it’s against Tot­ten­ham, who are bot­tom of the league. I’m tired of say­ing that. We don’t want to drop points any more.

“We have to keep go­ing but to keep drop­ping points? You can never be cham­pi­ons.”

At the end of the dress­in­groom in­quest Gael Clichy was said to be par­tic­u­larly dis­traught about his role in Spurs’ third goal. It was the French­man’s slip on the left flank that was pounced on by Jer­maine Je­nas, who curled the ball past Manuel Al­mu­nia.

But Clichy was by no means the only one cul­pa­ble in a team dis­play of in­ef­fi­cient de­fend­ing that in­censed Arsene Wenger and left him ques­tion­ing the in­tel­li­gence of some of his play­ers in his own post-match as­sess­ment.

Ade­bayor added: “It is al­ways bet­ter to go home from the match and learn our lessons. Then we will get to­gether and tell the truth. The nerves will calm down and every­one will have to ac­cept their crit­ics.”

That might be true, but man­ager Wenger is likely to be the fiercest af­ter the Gun­ners slipped fur­ther be­hind leaders Liver­pool and Chelsea.

With Manch­ester United and Chelsea to come next month, the po­ten­tial for fur­ther drift will not be lost on him or his play­ers.

Wenger ac­cepted full blame for tac­ti­cal de­ci­sions against Tot­ten­ham, in­clud­ing re­mov­ing his two most po­tent threats in Theo Wal­cott and Robin van Per­sie late on with the in­ten­tion of clos­ing out a game Arse­nal led 4-2.

“If I do not do it and they score two goals ev­ery­body says you made a big mis­take by not se­cur­ing the game,” he said.

“Maybe we would have scored more if they had stayed on, or maybe con­ceded three. Who knows?”

But af­ter sug­gest­ing that his play­ers lacked ma­tu­rity Wenger qual­i­fied that state­ment with the rather con­fus­ing and seem­ingly con­tra­dic­tory point that it was not on grounds of ex­pe­ri­ence or age but in terms of in­tel­li­gence.

“My play­ers are in­tel­li­gent and some of them will learn from their mis­takes,” he said, leav­ing the pos­si­bil­ity that some might not hang­ing in the air.

To­mor­row Arse­nal will have the chance at Stoke to show what they have learnt from their painful derby draw.

That will pro­vide a plat­form to get much frus­tra­tion off their ch­ests.

Pic­ture: CHRIS RAT­CLIFFE

GLUM: Ade­bayor knows Arse­nal should have won af­ter be­ing two goals up with just min­utes to go against Tot­ten­ham

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