Arsene Wenger says Arsenal couldn’t keep up with Tottenham physically in the second half of the weekend’s North London derby.
In the first half at Wembley, the two teams seemed fairly even. Neither had great chances to open the scoring, but it certainly wasn’t a walkover.
In the second period Arsenal hardly seemed to come out of the dressing room, and could’ve been 3-0 down in the first 15 minutes. Wenger attributed this to a physical disparity between the sides:
“If you look at the physical numbers, in the first half we were quite even but in the second half some players dropped and the distances we covered in the second half was inferior to them,” the manager admitted. “They could maintain it, and some players in our team cannot.”
It seems like Wenger is suggesting Tottenham’s players are fitter than Arsenal’s, which is a strange admission to make. If you’re playing in the Premier League and training hard every day week in week out, that shouldn’t be the case.
It’s not like Wenger’s side had a tough schedule leading up to the match either. They had a week-long break after the Everton game, during which time Tottenham played two matches.
The only excuse you could make for Arsenal is that some players haven’t played regular matches recently. The new signings in particular, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, only started one league match between them in January.
That doesn’t explain why midfield couldn’t get a foothold in the game though, or why the defence was a shambles. If the Spurs team really are fitter, Arsenal need to take a good look at their training programme.
There’s no excuse for that at this level.