By Richard Clarke
Arsène Wenger fully expected Arsenal to win the Premier League this season.
He believes his side’s failure to reach that target is down to team rebuilding and the inevitable hangover after missing out on silverware in the previous campaign.
Arsenal’s current Premier League season can be cut into two, very unequal, parts. The first ended on November 22 at Man City when they lost their fifth game of the campaign. They have been unbeaten in the second part, during which time they've all but secured a Champions League spot and, with five games left, remain hopeful of break into the top three.
“I expected to be first,” admitted Wenger at Friday's press conference. “If you look at our last 18 games, we are not far [away from there]. And if you look at our last six games, we are first.
“I believe that we had a bad start and something was not right on the psychological side of the team. We lost a little confidence at the start of the season. And if we had beaten Hull at home we would have been top of the League. Maybe we were a bit too complacent. But we learnt because we are a young side and since then we have been remarkably consistent.
“Before the season I knew there would be a hangover from the disappointment of last campaign. We did fight very hard but I believe as well that we had to rebuild the midfield.
“It was not only those psychological reasons. We had to find a balance again because we lost Hleb, Rosicky and Flamini. We lost three or four midfielders, we did not have Arshavin yet and we did not expect not to have Rosicky.”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