Wenger on the defensive


LONDON. — Arsene Wenger admits Arsenal have been stuttering since the turn of the year as a goalless draw at home to Southampton on Tuesday night left his title chasers five points adrift of top spot.

The Gunners were themselves sitting at the summit at the turn of the year but Wenger has seen his side win just one English Premier League game in 2016 – with Saints goalkeeper Fraser Forster putting in a superb display to further frustrate the Arsenal boss.

The hosts had 11 shots on target but have now dropped nine points from their last four games, slipping to fourth in the table and five points behind leaders Leicester.

And Wenger, who was involved in an angry tunnel bust-up with Ronald Koeman, blamed “poor finishing” for putting another dent in Arsenal’s title hopes in Tuesday night’s goalless draw against Southampton.

The Gunners boss was furious after a goalless draw left his side with just three points from a possible 12 and he confronted referee Lee Mason and blamed him for making a series of bad calls during the stalemate.

Witnesses heard Wenger say: “It’s always the same with you,” before rival manager Koeman weighed into the argument by facing up to his opposite number and claiming: “No, it’s always the same with you.”

Arsenal moved down to fourth after the goalless stalemate at the Emirates as arch-rivals Tottenham leapfrogged them.

Koeman was angry with Wenger as during their Boxing Day fixture, which the Saints won 4-0, the Frenchman also complained to the officials throughout.

Wenger shrugged off criticism that he should have signed a world-class goalscorer in the January transfer window despite acknowledging that Arsenal’s finishing has been rather poor in recent weeks.

The Arsenal manager cut a frustrated figure at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night as the Gunners created plenty of chances in a 0-0 draw with Southampton, but ultimately were denied on numerous occasions by the sheer brilliance of Saints goalkeeper Fraser Forster.

It has often been said that, in pursuit of winning a first English Premier League soccer title since 2004, the north London club should have invested heavily in a proven striker.

Wenger, though, batted away such claims after his side fell to fourth place, five points behind leaders Leicester.

“If you had found a world-class striker, who could have strengthened the team, then you should have told me,” he said.

“Believe me, they do not walk in (off) the street and say: ‘I am a world-class striker’.

“They are already at a big club and under contract and not available. We have Walcott, Giroud, Ozil, Sanchez and Welbeck, who is coming back.

“Tonight, I don’t think that a miracle man would have come in and scored for us. As a team, we can score goals.

“I don’t like to say it was one of those nights. We are all disappointed because we had enough chances to win the game. — AFP.

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