Angry Arsene Wenger on the attack after Gunners misfire in Southampton stalemate
Frenchman shrugs off criticism that he should have signed a world-class goalscorer in the January transfer window despite acknowledging that Arsenal’s finishing has been poor
Arsene 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 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 Premier League 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.
“The most disappointing thing is that some players missed chances that they usually take.
“Our finishing is very poor at the moment. We have played three Premier League games now without scoring a goal.
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“Forster had a brilliant game. But you’d expect that. The rate and quality of chances created was high for a Premier League game but the quality of finishing was poor.
“Finishing is a bit cyclical, up and down at the moment. It’s very down for us now.
“We have a difficult programme, especially away from home, but we need to respond.”
Southampton manager Ronald Koeman paid tribute to Forster, who kept his fourth successive clean sheet since returning from a knee injury last month.
“Our goalkeeper is magic and he was magic tonight,” Koeman said.
“It’s always difficult when you are out for more than nine months. Knowing you need rhythm and games.
“But since coming back he was the same. Credit to the medical staff and credit to Fraser.
“He is one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League and maybe one of the best in Europe.”
Koeman was quick to admit that his team had enjoyed their fair share luck given the sheer amount of chances created by Arsenal.
But he emphasised how well Southampton have played away to the supposedly prominent Premier League clubs.
“Not one team in my one-and-a-half years managing Southampton created what Arsenal created against us,” he said.
“So you need to be lucky first and you need to have a goalkeeper who is saving everything and that’s maybe what explained what happened.
“Normally it’s more difficult for opponents to create that many chances against us.
“We didn’t play well but we had unbelievable spirit. In the counter-attacking, we didn’t have the quality.
“But to get one point away to Arsenal, three points at Manchester United, to beat Chelsea away, one point against Liverpool at Anfield is amazing, a dream for a club like Southampton.”
Koeman revealed that his new striker Charlie Austin suffered a “knock” on the eve of the match.
But the recent signing from QPR should be available for the home match with West Ham on Saturday.
“It was risky in my opinion to put him on the pitch. It’s not a serious injury,” he said.
“Normally he’ll be available. If you know his past, he had been out for five or six weeks.
“So I’d prefer to wait one week to ensure the player is back.”