Arsene Wenger admitted his side were ‘naïve’ last night against Man City but was determined to focus on the many positives from the game.
An Arsenal corner turned into a Man City goal in 10 devastating seconds late in the second half, and the manager hinted there was a lack of experience involved.
Speaking at his post-game press conference, he said, “I felt we were a bit naive because it was a corner for us and a goal for them. I knew that we were in trouble and I feel we didn’t take enough time to take the corner because Djourou was just going up front and he had to stay at the back on the corner.
We didn’t leave him enough time to come back and that’s where we were caught. I felt we made it easy for them. They had a clear-cut chance and you couldn’t see them missing.”
Which is fair enough but in looking at the game in its overall context the boss was happy that his young team, bolstered by some current first team players and a couple of fringers with experience, held their own against City’s expensively assembled team.
“I cannot fault the team, they have shown heart, quality and desire. At the end of the day it is frustrating for the players that they are not rewarded. I feel that considering the youth of our midfield we have battled really well and have shown some fantastic quality.”
And the manager was quick to praise 18 year Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who was a thorn in City’s side all night long, and he hinted his rapid development could see him more involved in the near future.
“He has surprised me by the consistency of this game. You pushed him off the ball easily two months ago but tonight you could see that his resistance in the challenges, his strength in the duels, is there. That is of course very important at the top level.
“I was very patient with him until now and I feel that it is important sometimes that you hold them back a little bit and keep them on the training ground. He has shown that he has improved a lot.”
And for those who accuse Arsenal of not taking the Carling Cup seriously, last night was our 9th consecutive quarter-final appearance.
It might not have ended as well as some of the others but there’s plenty to take heart from.