Football: Arsenal slip-ups a worry for Wenger

Football: Arsenal slip-ups a worry for Wenger
Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger reacts during their English Premier League soccer match against Hull at the Emirates stadium in London

LONDON - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has said his players do not currently possess the ruthlessness to challenge Chelsea and Manchester City for the Premier League title.

The Gunners were held to a 2-2 draw at home to Hull City on Saturday and required a stoppage-time equaliser from England forward Danny Welbeck to avoid losing the game.

That result left them 11 points behind leaders Chelsea and six behind reigning champions Manchester City, with Southampton, West Ham and Manchester United also now above them in the table.

Wenger made it clear he felt Hull should have been beaten, and that a lack of focus by experienced players was the main reason why Arsenal failed to win.

"Of course I cannot say it's not a concern," the veteran French boss said on the subject of Arsenal's fading status as title-contenders.

"It's a big concern because the other teams win their games and we don't." Wenger added: "It was a disappointing afternoon because we had 80 per cent possession and got one point.

"We had absolutely to win this game and were unlucky with the referee on the first goal but on the second goal we can only blame ourselves.

"We came out of the dressing room with a lack of focus and gave them (Hull) the lead straight away. After, it was difficult.

"I cannot fault the effort or the heart that we put in the game but the defensive concentration was missing on the second goal and at that level you cannot give goals away like that."

Mertesacker mistake

The man at fault for the second goal, which arrived 35 seconds into the second half, was World Cup-winner Per Mertesacker, with the Germany centre-back allowing Abel Hernandez to head in a cross from the right from Tom Huddlestone despite a significant height advantage.

Earlier, Mohamed Diame had cancelled out Alexis Sanchez's 13th-minute opener with a goal Arsenal were convinced should have been disallowed for a foul in the build-up on Mathieu Flamini.

"The first goal is for the referee," Wenger added. "The second one is for us and I told the players that.

"They had two shots on goal in the whole game. It's difficult to score three goals against any team in the world," added Wenger, whose side did just that to come from 2-0 down to defeat Hull 3-2 in last season's FA Cup final.

Hull manager Steve Bruce insisted it was a measure of the progress his club had made in the last few years that they were annoyed not to win.

"The players are disappointed because they've gone close again and the frustration is that it's happened four times to us now this season, conceding late on," he said.

"But we are disappointed because we could only take a point from Arsenal.

"I've been here before with teams where they've played the reserves and we've been beaten by six or five and gone away with our tails between our legs. We've done extremely well to get a point.

"In the last six months we have played Arsenal twice, taken them on twice - it took extra-time for them to beat us in the Cup final and to come here and play just shows what strides we have made." At least Arsenal did not suffer any new injuries ahead of Wednesday's Champions League game with Anderlecht in Belgium.

Midfielder Jack Wilshere had to be taken off after hurting himself in a challenge that saw him booked, but Wenger declared him to be available "if selected".

Hull saw goalkeeper Steve Harper and defender Michael Dawson sustain injuries, having had to shelve plans to start with Hernandez on the bench when Nikica Jelavic pulled up in the warm-up.

"The goalkeeper looks as though he's torn a muscle in his bicep, Jelavic has got a badly-twisted knee and Dawson's ankle is the size of a basketball, " said Bruce, now set to recall goalkeeper Mark Oxley from a loan spell at Hibernian to replace Harper, who was deputising for injured first-choice Allan McGregor.

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