Arsene Wenger’s side hosted current Premier League champions Chelsea at the Emirates on Sunday afternoon, as they were keen to win and wanted to go back to the top of the points table. The Gunners were unbeaten in their last five games in all competitions and the French manager would have hoped for a solid performance, this time, around as well, against their domestic rivals. Wenger would have hoped that his team would replicate some of their best form at home against Guus Hiddink’s side, though it did not work out well for them.
The game started off well with the two teams looking to play some quick football and trying to score. However, Per Mertesacker was off after just 18 minutes in the game for a late challenge on Diego Costa, as he was away at goal with the ball at his feet from a superb pass. The German centre-back tried his best to reach the former Atletico Madrid striker on time, though he failed to get anyway near the ball. Olivier Giroud was sacrificed for Gabriel, which amused some of the faithful home fans. Moreover, the Blues’ attacker scored for his side five minutes later, which frustrated them further and it seemed that everything had gone wrong for their team. The hosts fought hard to defend and attack, though they could not equalize and it eventually ended in a 1-0 win to Hiddink’s side.
Here is what Wenger had to say after the match about his side’s performance, though they lost:
Talking about the decision to take Giroud off, he said, “You want to make a poll for every decision to see who does what? I made the decision and for me, it was quite normal.”
“We had to go for long distances and we needed pace to go from one goal to the other. We knew we had to drop deeper and use pace to get forward.”
About the sending off, he added, “I think it was quick and harsh, but I have to watch it again. What can I change? It doesn’t change anything. The referee made the decision and we have to get on with it. I didn’t speak to Per Mertesacker [about it].”
Further, when questioned about Costa, he said, “You want me to say things I am not interested in. I said Costa got two of our players sent off in the last two games against Chelsea. Those are facts.”
“Was the decision right or wrong, I don’t know but those are facts. Without accusing him of anything.”
Finally talking about the team’s performance, he concluded, “The team [after the red card] was focused and fought until the last second. Despite the disappointing result, we should have even more belief in ourselves after the game, when I see how it went.”