Wenger worried by 'anxious' Arsenal
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is growing frustrated with the team's "timid" and "nervous" displays at home, saying the players are struggling to deal with the pressure from restless fans.
Arsenal's midfield was overpowered in the 2-0 loss to Manchester City yesterday and defensive lapses led to an early red card for centre back Laurent Koscielny and the two goals.
"We are a bit too nervous to play in a serene way at home, and that shows in the way we start the games," Wenger said.
The 60,000-strong crowd at Emirates Stadium voiced its displeasure with referee Mike Dean after Koscielny's sending-off, but that's not the first time players have heard boos at home this season after more than seven years without a trophy.
Wenger said this restlessness from the crowd "doesn't help" the team.
"I feel we wanted to do so well but we are a bit uptight," he said. "It's not anger, it's frustration that you do not see from the start on what this team is capable of doing."
Yesterday, City dominated the opening stages even before Koscielny was sent off.
"We started too timid, with not enough authority in a game like that," Wenger said. "We didn't dictate the game from the start on and after we paid very early for it."
This is the second straight season where Arsenal fell out of the title race early and is instead fighting just to secure a lucrative Champions League spot. Arsenal are in sixth place in the Premier League and faces a tough challenge from Tottenham and Everton for a top-four spot.
In a crucial run of matches ahead - starting with Chelsea next Sunday - Arsenal will be without key midfielder Mikel Arteta for around three weeks because of a calf injury, Wenger said, depriving the team of its main holding midfielder.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 12
ASTON VILLA 0 SOUTHAMPTON 1
GOAL: SOUTHAMPTON: LAMPERT PEN 34
Aston Villa slipped into the relegation spots in controversial circumstances as Jay Rodriguez's blatant first-half dive helped Southampton to a valuable win. Top scorer Rickie Lambert swept home from the penalty spot after the £7m summer signing went down without contact from Enda Stevens in the area. Villa rallied after the break and went closest to an equaliser when Nathan Baker headed onto the crossbar. The result saw the Saints leapfrog Villa and move clear of the drop zone.
EVERTON 0 SWANSEA CITY 0
Everton's hopes of qualifying for the Champions League suffered a setback as they were held to a goalless draw by Swansea City at Goodison Park. The Toffees carved out a string of chances against the Capital One Cup semi-finalists but failed to score for the first time in 19 league games. Michel Vorm denied Victor Anichebe, while the Swans keeper also frustrated Nikica Jelavic and Phil Neville. Swansea's best chance saw Tim Howard tip Michu's effort onto the bar.
FULHAM 1 WIGAN ATHLETIC 1
GOALS: FULHAM: KARAGOUNIS 22. WIGAN: DI SANTO 71
Franco Di Santo's first Premier League goal in three months earned Wigan Athletic a deserved point at Fulham. The hosts had gone ahead through Giorgos Karagounis's 25-yard strike. Di Santo missed from close range after Emmerson Boyce's cross and Shaun Maloney's deflected 20-yard effort was spectacularly tipped onto the bar. But Wigan equalised when Di Santo cut in from the left, ran unchallenged and fired a shot past Mark Schwarzer to lift his side out of the bottom three.
NORWICH CITY 0
NEWCASTLE UNITED 0
An uninspiring affair at Carrow Road ended in a goalless draw between Norwich and Newcastle. Gabriel Obertan had a well-struck shot smartly saved by Canaries keeper Mark Bunn but chances were in short supply. Norwich defender Russell Martin went close in the second half only to see his long-range shot hit the post. Anthony Pilkington had a late chance for the home side but, after cutting inside, his 15-yard shot was saved by keeper Tim Krul.
WEST BROMWICH ALBION 2
GOALS: READING: KEBE 82; LE FONDRE PEN 88; POGREBNYAK 90. WBA: LUKAKU 19, 69.
Three goals in the final eight minutes gave Reading an unlikely win over West Brom at the Madejski Stadium. Romelu Lukaku had scored either side of half-time to give the dominant Baggies a deserved lead. But Jimmy Kebe pulled one back before Adam Le Fondre's penalty drew the home side level with two minutes to go. Pavel Pogrebnyak dived in from close range to put Reading ahead on 90 minutes and they hung on for only their third win of the season.
STOKE CITY 0 CHELSEA 4
GOALS: CHELSEA: WALTERS OG 45, OG 62; LAMPARD PEN 65; HAZARD 73.
Jon Walters scored two own goals and missed a penalty as Chelsea thumped Stoke to end the Potters' 17-game home unbeaten run in the Premier League. Walters headed a Cesar Azpilicueta cross into his own net just before half-time and repeated his unwanted trick from a Juan Mata corner.
Frank Lampard made it 3-0 from the spot after Mata was fouled and Eden Hazard smashed in a fourth from 30 yards out. Walters' misery was completed when he blasted a late penalty against the bar.
WEST HAM UNITED 0
GOALS: SUNDERLAND: LARSSON 12; JOHNSON 47; McCLEAN 74.
Impressive Sunderland brushed aside woeful West Ham with an emphatic win to ease relegation fears on Wearside. Sebastian Larsson's 25-yard thunderbolt lit up a dour first half, before Adam Johnson pounced after a Dan Potts error to double the lead from close range. Jack Colback hit the woodwork as West Ham began to crumble, before James McClean finished from a tight angle.
QUEENS PARK RANGERS 0
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0
QPR put in a tenacious display as they earned manager Harry Redknapp a draw against his former club, Tottenham. Rangers keeper Julio Cesar tipped a Jermain Defoe shot onto the post and saved Emmanuel Adebayor's follow-up early on. But that was a rare scare for a resolute home side, who went close when Shaun Wright-Phillips had a shot deflected wide by Michael Dawson.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 13
MANCHESTER CITY 2
GOALS: CITY: MILNER 21; DZEKO 32.
Manchester City clinched an eventful win at Arsenal to keep up the pressure on leaders Manchester United.
The Gunners had Laurent Koscielny sent off after 10 minutes for hauling down Edin Dzeko in the box, but Dzeko saw the resulting penalty saved.
City poured forward and James Milner put them ahead with an angled finish.
Dzeko made it 2-0 from close range but Arsenal dug in after half-time and Vincent Kompany's late red card meant both sides finished with 10 men.
MANCHESTER UNITED 2
GOALS: UNITED: VAN PERSIE 19; VIDIC 54. LIVERPOOL: STURRIDGE 57.
Manchester United kept a firm grip on the Premier League title race with a deserved victory against Liverpool at Old Trafford. The meeting had been billed as the battle of the strikers between Manchester United's Robin van Persie and Liverpool counterpart Luis Suarez. And it was Van Persie who made the decisive contribution as he put United ahead with a brilliant first-half finish then provided the free-kick for the second after 54 minutes as Patrice Evra's header deflected in off Nemanja Vidic. Liverpool's £12m signing from Chelsea Daniel Sturridge scored for the second successive game after coming on as substitute to give Brendan Rodgers's side hope and set up an anxious finish for United.