Wenger blames “impossible situation” for opening day debacle



Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Arsène Wenger says Arsenal were not ready on a physical level for Liverpool” was written by David Hytner at the Emirates Stadium, for The Guardian on Sunday 14th August 2016 19.40 UTC

Arsène Wenger said that Arsenal were not ready on a physical level to start the Premier League season, after he saw his team beaten 4-3 by Liverpool on a wild afternoon at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal led through Theo Walcott, who also missed a 29th-minute penalty, only to concede four times between first-half stoppage time and the 63rd minute, as Liverpool ran riot. The home team answered through Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Calum Chambers but the deficit proved insurmountable and his woes were deepened by hamstring and thigh injuries to Aaron Ramsey and Alex Iwobi respectively.

Wenger had taken the decision to give extended summer breaks to Laurent Koscielny, Oliver Giroud and Mesut Özil, after their involvement in the latter stages of Euro 2016, meaning that they were unavailable here, while he had also lost Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista to injuries in pre‑season.

Ramsey was a part of the Wales squad that reached the Euro 2016 semi-final, although he missed that game through suspension and the perils of rushing him back were highlighted when he limped off in the 62nd minute.

The Arsenal manager had said that “physically, we look ready”, after the pre-season win over Manchester City the previous Sunday but he had changed his tune here – in a game in which he started the inexperienced Chambers alongside the new signing, Rob Holding, in central defence. Arsenal were booed off at full-time.

Arsène Wenger watches on during the defeat to Liverpool.
Arsène Wenger watches on during the defeat to Liverpool. Photograph: BPI/Rex/Shutterstock

Wenger said: “We pushed players today like Ramsey. It is an impossible situation to get players back from the Euros and prepare. We played a very good first half and were unlucky to concede a goal just before half-time and after that, we paid for a lack of experience. We are not ready physically.

“You are in a catch-22 situation with the Euros, whether to give players a rest who need it. They are not ready to play this sort of game and get injured, like Ramsey, or you give them a rest and not have them for the start. You have to consider, as well, that we have been unlucky with losing Mertesacker and Gabriel, and having Koscielny not fit.”

Jürgen Klopp, the Liverpool manager, could be delighted with the cutting edge that his players showed. Philippe Coutinho and the new signing, Sadio Mane, were outstanding. “Scoring four is wonderful, conceding three is the opposite,” Klopp said. “It was hard work, but a brilliant win. A deserved win. I’ve no idea about the title. If you celebrate too early, life always gives you a knock.”

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