Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger praised his side’s battling qualities, mental strength and refusal to give up while complaining about pretty much everything else after the Gunners overturned a 3-0 deficit in the last 20 minutes of their game against Bournemouth to leave Dean Court with a share of the spoils.
Wenger said about his team after the game, “It was a physical and mental test – they started much faster but we showed we are mentally strong. At 3-0 down after 70 minutes you’d take a point, but in the end we were frustrated not to win the game.”
Arsenal conceded two very poor goals in the opening 20 minutes before some more shoddy defending left Arsenal with what seemed like an insurmountable lead when Ryan Fraser pushed Hector Bellerin off the goal before finishing a little too easily between the wide open legs of Petr Cech.
However, Arsenal showed tremendous resolve when they battled back and snatched a draw with an injury time equalizer from Olivier Giroud, who had set up the Gunners’ previous two goals as well.
Wenger though was disappointed to leave with just a point, saying, “We wanted to win the game and we wanted three points, but on the other hand some big teams have dropped points here. We had to cope with the pace of Bournemouth, who scored four against Liverpool here. But when you’re 3-0 down you have to acknowledge the quality of the response of your team.”
The praise though ended there with Wenger lashing out at Referee Michael Oliver for doing a shoddy job over the course of the game and with the English FA for their poor scheduling which gave Bournemouth an extra day’s rest before the game as compared with Arsenal.
Wenger said about the scheduling, “Bournemouth deserve a lot of credit as they are a good team who played with pace, but the disadvantage is too big to play against a team with three and a half days’ recovery. It’s too uneven to only have two days’ rest. That’s too big a handicap.”
Sharing specifics Wenger added, “We had three or four players we had to play tonight that we had to wait until the warm-up to see if they could play. Hector Bellerin had a knock so he was uncertain to play, and that’s the problem with only 48 hours (between games); you have to play some players again. Laurent Koscielny too, and we had Gabriel that we didn’t start in the end. And then I didn’t start Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain because I didn’t take a gamble with him, because I didn’t know who we’d have to take off. This complicates the job a lot, but we have to shut up and cope with it.”
Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe conceded that his side benefited from having the extra day off, but suggested that at the end of the day football is a squad game, and he made better use of the players at his disposal.
He said, “I’m not going to deny it had an impact. That’s what you have a squad for and make changes, like we did.”