By Chris Harris
According to Arsène Wenger, Arsenal were still feeling the effects of their Champions League defeat against Manchester United when they lost to the same opponents last weekend.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s team eliminated Arsenal from Europe last May when they won 3-1 at Emirates Stadium to clinch a 4-1 aggregate victory at the Semi-Final stage.
It was a crushing blow to Wenger, his team and their fans. Arsenal went into the decisive leg just a goal behind but their optimism was shattered by two away goals inside 11 minutes from Ji-Sung Park and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Those early strikes effectively killed the tie and Arsenal suffered a similar fate last Sunday when another first-half double whammy heralded another 3-1 defeat.
Wenger has spent much of this week studying that Premier League reverse and he believes that the trauma of last season’s European exit influenced his team’s performance.
“I believe we gave Man United too much freedom to play,” he said.
“We have to be tight in our marking. If you look at the game, we started quite well and had all the early chances with Arshavin. Then, boom, goal.
“Then we started to doubt a little bit and that is where we were insecure because maybe the Man United trauma of the Champions League is what I questioned after the game. Is what happened to us last year in the Champions League still in our mind?
“I believe Man United is maybe a bit in our heads. [Losing 4-1 to] Chelsea last year at home was an accident because we had just gone out of the Champions League and we had a really bad look because we could have been 3-0 up and suddenly it is 3-0 for them. I don’t think we had a bad performance against Chelsea last year.”
But regardless of how his team fared against United last weekend, Wenger is convinced they can turn the negative headlines into positive vibes at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
“I believe we will respond on Sunday, I have no doubt about that,” declared the Frenchman.Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 6 Feb 2010