Wenger relieved fans didn’t turn on team in draw with City

Wenger relieved fans didn't turn on team in draw with City

LONDON — After Arsenal twice conceded against Manchester City, Arsene Wenger was apprehensive.

“At 1-0 down and 2-1 down, just before halftime, our fans could have turned against us,” Wenger said. “I think they were absolutely sensational and helped the team today get through those difficult moments.”

Not that there was too much to celebrate after Sunday’s 2-2 draw in the Premier League. A fifth loss in six league games would have darkened the mood further around the Emirates Stadium, but a point still leaves Arsenal treading water far from the Champions League places.

Man City remains seven points ahead in fourth place, with 10 games to go for Arsenal, including one in hand over Guardiola’s side. It leaves Wenger’s enviable record of securing 20 successive seasons of Champions League qualification under threat.

Within that atmosphere, it’s hard for Arsenal or Wenger to contemplate any announcement yet that the embattled manager is extending his 21-year reign. But the smattering of protests that did erupt on Sunday was restricted to publicity-seeking stunts outside the Emirates Stadium. And Wenger hopes the resilience demonstrated against City is a positive sign for the closing weeks of the season as the manager’s contract winds down.

Far from capitulating as so often in recent years at Arsenal, Theo Walcott wiped out Leroy Sane’s City fifth-minute opener. Although Sergio Aguero immediately fired City back in front, Shkodran Mustafi restored parity eight minutes into the second half and Arsenal protected the point.

“We started with quite a high level of anxiety and we are punished straight away,” Wenger said of Sane’s close-range finish after racing onto Kevin De Bruyne’s long ball. “It was a mental test and overall you could see that the team was touched on the confidence front, the fluency in our game suffered.”

Then the Gunners recovered.

“We have shown some mental strength,” Wenger said, “and that will help us to come back to our natural fluency.”

City also needs a confidence-booster after a third consecutive league draw that left Guardiola deeply frustrated.

“After the first half, we score a goal, forgot to play,” Guardiola said in a blunt assessment. “We missed a little bit, forgot a little bit to attack. That’s why in the first half Arsenal was better. Of course, we had the chance to make the counterattacks, but we missed easy balls and when this happens, you cannot control the ball.

“The second half was much better, especially when Yaya (Toure) went in (off the bench for Raheem Sterling), because he has this huge personality to play.”

City’s next game is also in London on Wednesday at Chelsea, whose lead was trimmed to seven points on Saturday after losing at home to Crystal Palace. Second-placed Tottenham beat Burnley.

___

SWANSEA 0, MIDDLESBROUGH 0

The scrap to stay in the Premier League was the focus of Sunday’s other game. Just like in Arsenal’s meeting with Manchester City, a point did little to help either Swansea or Middlesbrough.

Swansea is only a point and a place above the relegation zone, while Middlesbrough is five points behind the south Wales club with a game in hand.

Rob Harris, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Missing Chilliwack teen found ‘safe and sound’

Boy found just as mother was organizing search

Chilliwack Rotary club reports $4,200 theft at storage shed

Rotary Train Shed adjacent to homeless camp on reserve land broken into Oct. 15

Rainfall warning issued across Lower Mainland into the weekend

50 to 70 mm of rain expected to fall starting overnight Friday and into Sunday morning

UPDATE: Chilliwack mother issues plea for info on missing son

Informal search party organized for 13-year-old boy not seen since Thursday

Husband pleads guilty in relation to 2009 killing of Kulwinder Gill

Abbotsford woman died in hit-and-run conspiracy

VIDEO: ‘Lyle the singing pig’ searching for home

SPCA say the pig is ‘not opera-ready’

B.C. search groups mobilize for missing mushroom picker

Searchers from across the province look for Frances Brown who has been missing since Oct. 14.

Search for missing B.C. man a race against winter weather

David Jeff of Williams Lake was last seen in Kamloops during the chaotic wildfire evacuations

Man steals police car, goes for a ‘slow’ ride

Mission RCMP say the motive of the theft is unknown

Dodgers punch ticket to World Series

This will be the first time the Los Angles Dodgers have made it to the World Series since 1988.

Surf group winning the war on plastic bags

The Tofino Co-op will no longer provide plastic bags, following in the footsteps of the Ucluelet location that already made the change earlier this year.

All three victims identified in Fernie arena ammonia leak

Wayne Hornquist and Lloyd Smith were from Fernie and Jason Podloski from Turner Valley, Alta

VIDEO: Body discovered at scene of dumpster fire behind Langley City mall

Area behind furniture store taped off after firefighters find deceased woman while battling blaze

5 to start your day

Sentencing in murder of Surrey teen expected, Maple Ridge mayor to step away from politics and more

Most Read