Gunners fear title hope slipping
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.
GLUM: Adebayor knows Arsenal should have won after being two goals up with just minutes to go against Tottenham