Wenger: Arsenal's lack of goals is 'difficult to explain'

17Dec 2017
Guardian On Sunday
Wenger: Arsenal's lack of goals is 'difficult to explain'

ARSENE Wenger is struggling to understand why his Arsenal team are not scoring more goals, but says Premier League teams are increasingly content to sit back and play for 0-0 draws.


have dominated possession, created plenty of chances, but failed to come away with a win.

Wenger's side have created more chances overall than any other Premier League team this season -- even high-flying Manchester City -- but are averaging less than two goals per game and languishing in seventh place. In their last three matches, they took a total of 65 shots and came away with two goals.

"It's difficult to explain," Wenger said about those statistics. "Do the teams defend better? You could say no, because we create more chances than anybody else. Are the chances of the same quality? I don't know.

"But there is no objective reason to [single out] on that. Is it confidence, is it the fact that the guys think we have absolutely to score? It's difficult to know. But the quality of our game is there. But it's true that at the moment we cannot show it with points."

Teams facing Arsenal have often put 10 men behind the ball, with their focus on defending and trying to hit them on the counterattack.

David Moyes' West Ham executed that plan on Wednesday, and nearly snatched a win in the final minutes when they were denied by the crossbar.

Wenger said West Ham played with "nine players in their final third," and lamented that it is a tactic that teams outside the top six are increasingly adopting against the big clubs.

"It's a modern problem now," he said. "That has changed, yes, because first of all their crowd accepts it, that they just defend. Because they start with the idea that if they play a 0-0, it's a good result. Every tackle they make, the crowd [roars]. And you would say, as long as you don't score the first goal, you are in a position where you have to take a gamble.

"What is even worse, you know if you have not scored in the last 10 minutes they will find one moment, one free kick or corner, where you'll be in trouble. And that's what could have happened at West Ham. And then you sit there, you can lose a game where you had 70 percent of the ball."

Wenger said statistics showed that West Ham cover an average of 105 kilometers as a team in the Premier League this season, but were able to cover 114 against Arsenal without slowing down.

"That means these teams don't die anymore," he said. "As long as you don't score your first goal it's difficult, because they don't come out."

Wenger said it is up to his side to force the opposition to come out of their shell.

"When the defence gives you a new problem, you have to find a new solution," he said. "And we are not far from it, because we feel the quality of the game is there. But we have to be more efficient, to finish what we prepare.

"We speak about Jack [Wilshere], he has that little burst to turn the game and make a little difference and create an opening. But as well, [you need] a calm in the finishing. Because when you don't score you get nervous and the guys want to force it.

"Ideally you want both teams to have a go and play. And if we find a solution [to their defence] and score, they will play. So we have to create a situation that makes the game attractive. And you have to think that we play well enough on our side to make the game attractive. I love to think that that is our responsibility." AGENCIES

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