Press conference

'We weren't at the races in the first half'

Arsene Wenger was understandably disappointed with his side after they were beaten 2-1 by Ostersunds on Thursday night.

The Arsenal manager spoke to the media after the match, and this is what he said:

on being disappointed with the defeat but pleased to progress…
You’re right, there’s not a lot to add.

on whether he was disappointed with the performance…
Yes, we were not at the races in the first half. I think in the second half it was much better and we should have scored a few goals. Our energy was higher, our domination was consistent and we were in control in the second half. In the first half we were in trouble and in danger because we were complacent, not focused and were open every time we lost the ball. We had no ideas with the ball and that’s why we were in trouble. We responded very well because we did the job to qualify, but that’s what we have to take from the night and that’s all.

on whether the players thought the tie was over before kick-off…
It’s difficult to say. We prepared properly and in a serious way, but you have external circumstances such as the fact we won 3-0, the fact that we have another big game on Sunday, the fact that people subconsciously think you just have to turn up to win the game. Football doesn’t work like that. We played against a good side and it’s what you see in the FA Cup. Against all teams, you can be in trouble every time you’re not 100 per cent focused.

on the same thing happening against Nottingham Forest…
You have seen upsets like that many times in the FA Cup. Against Nottingham Forest, we played a similar team and we were not at the level that was demanded.

on how many teacups were broken at half-time…
It’s better not to talk too much tonight, and focus on our next game.

on whether Rob Holding and Calum Chambers’ form worries him…
It’s difficult to isolate it. In the first half, I would say that it was more difficult to find any good performance. It’s easier to find bad performances and after that, for the defenders, maybe it was even more difficult. In the first half, the whole team was not at the level you expect. It was not easy for the defenders either because we lost the ball too early, we didn’t screen well when we lost the ball, so it was not easy for the defenders.

on what Manchester City would think watching that performance…
You should ask them, I don’t know.

on how well Ostersunds played…
I felt they played very well. They are a good side. If you look at their results in the Europa League since the start of the season, they have had very good results. You see that tonight and it’s not by coincidence. How many foreign players are in their team? I don’t know, but it’s an international team as well with top-quality players.

on whether the competition gets more difficult from the next round…
Yes, of course it will be more difficult. We have to wait to find out who we get tomorrow, but of course the closer you get the more difficult it will be. Ostersunds were a good candidate. They don’t have a glamorous name, maybe because they have no real history in Europe, but technically and collectively they are a good side.

on Per Mertesacker's future as a player…
I just used this competition to play some younger players like Chambers and Holding. I wanted to give them games. I also have Mavropanos who is doing very well in training, and at some stage I have to give them games as well.

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