By Richard Clarke
Arsène Wenger has refused to blame Saturday's draw with Everton on the absence of Alex Song.
Arsenal had to come from behind twice against David Moyes' side amid at snowstorm at Emirates Stadium. They only earned a point thanks a deflected strike from Tomas Rosicky in stoppage time.
The game was the first since Song departed for the Africa Cup of Nations. After an excellent season, Wenger admitted his side would have to adjust to the loss of Cameroon international.
"I knew before he left, unfortunately, that he'd be missed," said the manager. "But I do not want to draw a quick conclusion because too many players were off the pace on Saturday.
"We struggled for a while when we lost Van Persie as well, so we have to find a new balance, new responsibilities, and a share of responsibilities in our game."
The blow of dropping points was softened a little by Manchester United's draw at Birmingham later on Saturday. With Chelsea's game postponed, Arsenal finished the weekend three points behind the leaders.
"Before the season of course, I would have signed to be this close in the race at this stage," said Wenger.
"But you could see from Saturday that every game is difficult and as soon as you drop your level a little bit you are in danger. Today that's what happened to us. We didn't find our speed in our passing to get Everton out of position, and they did very well."Copyright 2017 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