Arsene Wenger denies his players have a character problem, despite the nature of the team’s defeat to Manchester City in the League Cup final.
Losing 3-0 in a cup final is never going to bring in much praise. Still, the major issue many fans had with the performance wasn’t that Arsenal weren’t good enough. Instead they lambasted the fact that the players seemed to give up and stop trying.
In his pre-match press conference ahead of the next Manchester City game this Thursday, Wenger denied character is a big issue for the squad.
“I’m long enough in the game to know when you lose a big game people say the players don’t want it enough,” he said. “You have to analyse if that is a serious problem. I am not convinced. For me, it is not the main reason.”
If the performance were a one-off, I’d understand where Wenger is coming from. The issue is that it’s not, and this is becoming a regular occurrence.
When Harry Kane scored against Arsenal in the North London derby, the team didn’t respond in kind. Instead they were lucky not to go 3-0 down in the next five minutes, with the number of chances they gave away.
Before that they took the lead against Swansea in January, only to concede three and lose. Earlier in the month they did the same thing against Bournemouth, opening the scoring just to drop all three points.
Then there was the match against Östersunds FK, where Arsenal let in two goals in two minutes.
The team panic whenever they concede at the moment. The players need someone on the pitch to calm them down, because in the majority of those matches they were still in a decent position until the second goal went in. Wenger needs to find someone with those leadership qualities, even if he won’t admit it publicly.