By Richard Clarke

Arsène Wenger believes Arsenal may have underestimated Sunderland on Saturday.

Darren Bent’s second-half strike consigned the visitors to their third defeat of the season at the Stadium of Light at the weekend. Afterwards Wenger thought the performance to be more disappointing than the previous reverses at Manchester City and Manchester United. The circumstances – an injury-hit squad still fatigued from internationals – were difficult but the manager wanted more.

“Mentally, it’s a blow,’ he said. “It’s a big disappointment because we know that this was a very big, important game for us that we couldn’t afford to lose. I believe, maybe, we didn’t realise enough the importance of the difficulty here.

“We were much better at Man City, we were much better at Manchester United than we were today that is for sure. Today we were not good enough, I don’t deny that.

“We lacked the final ball. Sunderland, credit to them, defended very well with a lot of heart. They fought for every ball. They played a cup game. I believe that gave them a little bit of extra courage to last. Even with that we were very, very close to scoring in the last 10 minutes.

“I don’t feel there was a lack of desire from us to win the game. I said [at the press conference] there was a lack of provoking mistakes from Sunderland by going more in behind. We chose an easy part of the game. When you go away with international games, people forget how difficult it is to win a football game afterwards.”

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23 Nov 2009