Press conference

Wenger - Why we improved in the second half

Arsene Wenger was a happy man on Sunday evening - but for much of the first half against Stoke he cut a more frustrated figure.

We improved markedly after the interval, but why? This is what the Arsenal manager told the media:

on the game…
First of all, Stoke played well. Secondly, we didn’t play well in the first half at all. We lacked urgency, pace, drive. In the second half, we rectified that. As much as I felt that in the first half we could lose this game, in the second half I always felt we would win this game. That’s the difference in attitude of the team. Overall that explains why it was 0-0 at half-time and 3-0 after the game.

on if the first penalty was a penalty…
From outside, it looked a penalty. I will look at it again, I promise you. But I don’t think that Ozil dived.

on Lacazette’s impact…
Not only Lacazette, I think the urgency, the pace of the team was different. We lacked cohesion in the first half. It was hit and go, really slow. In the second half, our pace was much better.

on whether Welbeck was injured…
Welbeck had a back problem, yes.

on the attendance…
They will be back on Thursday, don’t worry. It’s explainable by the fact that it’s Easter. It’s a family happening where people go away and it’s a fact that we don’t think about a lot in the Premier League. There’s also the fact that we had a break. In the Premier League, in the last two or three weeks, we’ve faced that problem. It’s just down to the fact that we’re not fighting for the championship. People know that will not change now.

on whether the lower attendances will affect the Premier League’s product…
No, at home we’ve had quite a strong season. Maybe we’ve been one of the strongest for a long time. I think that’s a combination of quality and number of goals scored. The quality of the games we’ve produced here, even the two games we lost at home - against Manchester City was just after the League Cup final and the 33 shots on goal we had against Manchester United - we put in outstanding performances. It’s away from home that we have lost our opportunities and the fans are disappointed by that.

on Petr Cech…
He’s better today. He will maybe go out for a little session now. I still think he will be short for Thursday.

on what Gareth Southgate meant by ‘cleaning up our own house’…
I always support people who fight against racism. Since I’ve been in England, English football has tackled the problem quite well. Is the battle over? Certainly not because there’s still room for improvement. I don’t think that people ignore the problem here.

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