By Declan Taylor
Arsène Wenger has refused to criticise Sunderland’s negative tactics during Saturday’s draw, insisting that his side must learn to “punish” teams who set their stall out to defend at Emirates Stadium.
The Black Cats played with a lone frontman, Kenwyne Jones, throughout the match and withstood almost constant second-half pressure to hold Arsenal to their third Premier League goalless draw in a row.
However, Wenger did not blame the visitors for their approach and admitted that his side’s lack of cutting edge made them nervous as the game wore on.
"I am not critical of Sunderland,” the Frenchman said. “We have to deal with that because that's what everybody does to us. They gave us a problem. We have to be good enough to deal with it.
"We want to be even more determined to punish teams who refuse to play, you know. But I feel at the moment we became nervous when we didn't score early on and you could see that in the way we didn't take our chances in the second half.
"I don't know whether I would do that as manager of Sunderland. I don't want to interfere in what they should do because they are free to do what they want. It's down to us to win the game.”
While Arsenal were left frustrated at the final whistle, the Sunderland players and fans celebrated a solid afternoon’s work.
Although Wenger was not annoyed by the celebrations, he thought that Ricky Sbragia’s outfit may ultimately feel a little frustrated by their performance.
"Everybody has the right to [celebrate],” said the manager. “They were happy with their result. When you're a player and you don't touch the ball too much and you make a result you are always between two states.
“The first is of frustration as that's not really what you want to do and the second is you're happy because you made a result at Arsenal and you know your manager will be happy with you.”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 23 Feb 2009