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English Premiership

Scars of 5-1 put handbrake on – Wenger

WELBECK-GERRARDLIVERPOOL, December 23- Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has admitted his side’s below-par performance in Sunday’s 2-2 draw against Liverpool may have been partly due to the mental scars inflicted on his players by their 5-1 defeat at Anfield last February.

The Gunners had an unusually low 36.5 percent of possession in a game that they came so close to winning until Martin Skrtel headed an injury time Liverpool equaliser, with Wenger conceding his players underperformed on their return to Merseyside.

“Maybe bad memories from last season, that played a part,” he told a post-match press conference at Anfield. “Look, we had problems today to get our flow going. We didn’t have enough possession in the game. In the first half I felt it was down to tactical and psychological reasons.

“In the second half we blocked them much better. After we went 2-1 up, we just let them come at us and didn’t come out enough to score a third goal. As long as you don’t score a third goal, you are under threat to concede a second goal.

“We played with three strikers, plus [Alex] Oxlade-Chamberlain and [Santi] Cazorla — that’s basically five offensive players and I felt that we didn’t create enough today. We conceded a corner which was a bit unlucky and where we were guilty, we didn’t jump at all with Skrtel on the corner and from then on we conceded 2-2.

“Overall it was a fair result for the whole 90 minutes, but it’s a frustrating result for us because they came back into a game where we had plenty of defenders on the pitch and we should defend the set piece much better.

“Look, today is frustrating because they came back to 2-2, but overall it’s not the most frustrating day of the season today.”

Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker was also downbeat about his side’s display in an interview with the club’s website.

“Overall we have to take responsibility for our game,” said Mertesacker. “We want to dictate but we were on always on the back foot. I’m not really pleased with the performance but we take the point now and we’re looking forward to December 26.

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“We have to dig in now and try to beat QPR [on December 26]. When you compare this result to last year, this is a much better result, but I’m not very pleased with our performance. We can do much better and we have to find it.”

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