With matches against Bournemouth and Preston North End this week, there was plenty to talk about.
Starting with the 3-3 draw against Bournemouth, in which the Gunners came back from 3-0 after an abject performance, Arsene Wenger was full of comments about mental tests, excuses about Arsenal being unlucky and coming back.
It’s more than a little frustrating since this is a reoccurring theme when it comes to Arsenal and rather than just put his hands up and admit how horrific we played, I feel like Wenger acts as a buffer between us and the players. All this does, however, is make him seem in denial.
“They looked sharper than us at the start. It took us a while to get into the game and you could see they had better recovered than us – that was predictable.
“It’s difficult to say [whether it was down to tiredness]. I could see we were not at our usual level. I believe that we were not on even ground with our opponents, that is for sure, in the preparation of the game.
“We were a bit unlucky as well, I think penalty or not a penalty… after on the third goal we were unlucky again. But we have to cope with it and I think we responded very well.
“I felt that it was a mental test for us to fight back. We have shown an outstanding fighting spirit to come back and it shows great resilience and a refusal to lose the game – that is quite positive.”
Moving on to the FA Cup clash against Preston North End, the players began their media duty of attempting to rally the fans after a disappointing result. This week, it was Rob Holding’s turn to talk about how great the fans are and how important they are to results.
“I always say it’s the crowds [that make cups special],” Holding said
“The crowds make it different. To a footballer it’s just another game, but the crowds are a bit more up for it and the away fans have a bigger capacity than normal, so there’s a bit of that rivalry and it gets everyone going a bit.”
The boss also explained why he was giving Alexis Sanchez a rest for the game, considering how much the Chilean has been playing recently.
“Alexis wants always to play,” said the boss, “and on one side when I don’t play him, people say ‘why don’t you play him?’ and on the other hand I am criticised for using him too much.
“But I always planned in my head, no matter what happens, that in January he will need a breather.
Wenger also confirmed that it looks like the club will extend Per Mertesacker and Santi Cazorla’s contracts, saying, “We have an option on both of them and I think we will take it.”
Although he admitted that he doesn’t know what Santi will be back after his ankle surgery.
“At the moment, he is far [from returning]. It’s not going as quickly as I imagined it, so certainly in January he will not come back.”
Finally, Arsenal managed to beat Preston 2-1 in the FA Cup after going 1-0 down early on. Olivier Giroud scored the winner, making that five goals in five starts this season. Here’s what Wenger had to say about the French striker.