Defence 'not good enough'

Defence 'not good enough'
Stoke City's Peter Crouch celebrates his goal against Arsenal with Bojan and Jonathan Walters.

Arsene Wenger is once again beginning to sound like a broken tape recorder.

Two weeks ago, after the Gunners were beaten by old foes Manchester United, the Arsenal manager lamented that his men were "defensively naive".

After Saturday's 3-2 Premier League setback at Stoke, he repeated his words as Stoke hung on at the Britannia Stadium to place fresh pressure on the Frenchman.

The Gunners had trailed 3-0 at the interval following a catastrophic first-half display, particularly in defence, and Wenger, whose back four included 19-year-old Hector Bellerin, conceded that the absence of key personnel had affected his side.

"Stoke started strong and we were not decisive enough in our defensive challenges," Wenger said.

"We gave them a thoroughly good present (with Peter Crouch scoring after just 19 seconds) and after that put a lot of energy into the game.

"In the second half, we had good opportunities to come back but we couldn't do it. We were too tender at the back and when we started to respond, it was late in the game.

"We could not play (Laurent) Koscielny (who was an unused substitute) or Nacho Monreal and, with Mathieu Debuchy out as well, we were a bit inexperienced at the back.

"Altogether, we struggled to cope with what they offered. It shows that in every single game, you have to be committed and focused from the first second. Defensively, we were not good enough."

Goals from Bojan Krkic and Jonathan Walters added to Stoke's dominance and only a controversial ruling from referee Anthony Taylor midway through the second half denied them a four-goal lead.

It threatened to be a major talking point when two quickfire goals from Santi Cazorla, from the penalty spot, and Aaron Ramsey gave the Gunners hope. However, the dismissal of Calum Chambers ruined the visitors' momentum.

"If Chambers has to go, I will find you five more players that should be sent off," Wenger said.

"We do not want to comment too much on the decisions of referees, but watch the game again and I don't think Chambers deserved to be sent off compared with some other people that put arms and elbows in faces."

A point would have flattered Wenger's team, however, as they missed the chance to close the gap on Premier League leaders Chelsea following the Blues' defeat earlier in the day.

They remain 13 points adrift of top spot and have won just once in eight league visitsto Stoke.

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