Unai Emery admits Arsenal’s 3-2 defeat to Crystal Palace was very frustrating but he tried to sound an optimistic note ahead of Wednesday’s game with Wolves.
The Gunners starting lineup, heavily rotated by the Spaniard, struggled to cope with the visitors from the off and found themselves 1-0 down when Christian Benteke scored for the first time since fire was invented.
The Gunners reacted well after the break and equalised through Mesut Ozil, but dumb-arsed defending (yeah, I’m looking at you Shkodran) saw Roy Hodgson’s men steal two more goals just as momentum seemed to be swinging our way.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang did his best to lead a comeback, but it failed to materialise, in part due to some pretty shoddy finishing and a lot of bad decision-making in the final third.
While we remain in the top four on goal difference, it’s obviously galling that we could have tightened the screw on Chelsea, Sp*rs and Manchester United, especially as the latter two also lost this weekend.
“Yes, it’s a big frustration because it was a big opportunity,” Emery told his post-game press conference.
“But we can say we had a big opportunity in the matches before today and we took a lot of points, a lot of key moments to give us the opportunity to be, now, in our way with the possibility to achieve our first target, which is to play Champions League next year.
“We can do that through the Premier League or the Europa League. Today, we lost a very big opportunity but I don’t think it changes our idea.
“We need to prepare for the next match against Wolverhampton. It’s in our hands because we can continue with the possibility of being in the top four if we win.”
On the way the defeat played out, Emery added, “First it’s because they have very good players. Second, it’s because today in the set pieces, we didn’t work and we weren’t strong like we were in the rest of the season.
“The first goal came from a free-kick, the third from a corner. Today we struggled more than we wanted in these two situations and really the result can come, this result, through it.
He added: “It’s very difficult to win and to repeat to win and again to win and again to win. One day like today can happen.
“First, because they have very good players and an experienced coach and away they won at Manchester City, they won at Newcastle, they won at Leicester.
“We knew it was going to be difficult and we respect them a lot. But on the pitch we could not impose our gameplay today.”
So there we go. A first league defeat at the Emirates since the opening day of the season and certainly one that stings. There was already little room for manoeuvre in our quest to secure a Champions League spot, now the situation is even more complicated.