Press conference

Wenger - It should’ve been over at half time

One goal proved to be enough to settle the north London derby at Wembley Stadium on Saturday afternoon, with Harry Kane's strike sealing the points for the hosts on this occasion.

In his post-match press conference, Arsene Wenger faced questions on Tottenham's goal, our goalscoring opportunities and his hopes of Champions League qualification - and this is what he said:

on whether he thought we would get something from the game…
Possession is basically 50/50 in this game. Firstly, I think the game should have been finished at half-time for me. We missed opportunities on counter-attacks that are not missable at our level, due to the final ball. In the second half, we should have lost the game by more than one goal at the start. We were destabilised by the goal they scored and they had two or three more opportunities that they could have scored. In the final part of the game, we should have come back to 1-1. That maybe would not have been enough, but would be better than being 1-0 down. Overall, we’ve got mixed feelings because for long periods in the first half, with a bit more quality in our final pass, we would have won this game.

on whether he felt unlucky with the offside decisions in the first half…
I haven’t seen it again. To me, it looked from outside that he was level, but afterwards is the boot in front or not? I will have to watch that on video. I don’t know.

on whether Harry Kane fouled Laurent Koscielny for Spurs’ goal…
I have no complaints. I thought that during the goal but I watched it again and it’s a regular goal. We can only look at ourselves on the goal.

on whether he was disappointed by the lack of chances we created…
I believe that we had opportunities, dangerous situations that we didn’t transform into opportunities. That’s where my regret is, that in the final ball we missed something. When you have two or three opportunities like we had in the final part of the game, you want to take your chances in these kinds of games. You know you will not have 10 chances. If you don’t take them, you will suffer at the end of the day. To be at the level mentally is to be capable of using your opportunities. That’s what the top level is about.

on Martin Keown saying our players lacked hunger to defend…
No, I don’t think they lacked the hunger to defend. They were up against a super striker who is one of the best in the world. He scores against everybody, so all of the defenders who play against him must lack hunger then!

on our poor away record this season…
It’s very poor. Once they had scored the goal, that maybe played a part in it. Football is about scoring goals. You can say, ‘We are not strong enough when defending our goal’, but when you look at the numbers and compare them to the top six, we do not score enough goals away from home. These two weaknesses, one added to the other, explain it.

on the race for the top four…
It’s a game we couldn’t afford to lose, of course. That makes it much more difficult now but we have to fight for as long as we have a mathematical chance. There was more at stake than just the derby, I said that before the game. That’s why it’s so disappointing to lose the game in the way we lost it.

on whether it’s too early to start seeing Europa League as the only way of qualifying for Champions League…
It’s too early, yes. Football is not about switching off for three games and then switching it on for one game. Manchester United decided that once they were in the semi-final. We are far from the semi-final and we have to fight to have a chance to come back. For me, it’s a very disappointing result because the priority has to be to get into the Champions League from the Premier League [top-four finish]. I’m not a great fan of qualifying through the Europa League because I don’t think it’s right. If it’s an opportunity, we’ll have to try to take it as well. The priority is still to be in the Premier League.

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