Arsene Wenger: Sluggish Gunners were punished


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Arsenal were heavily punished for a sluggish start to the second half in their 1-0 loss at Stoke City, according to manager Arsene Wenger.

The Gunners fell to defeat at a ground that has not been kind to them down the years when former Real Madrid winger Jese Rodriguez slotted beyond Petr Cech less than two minutes into the second period.

Stoke’s match-winning move began when Granit Xhaka coughed up possession cheaply in the middle of the park, Stoke admirably making the most of it as they played through the heart of Arsenal’s defence.

Wenger said he had outlined the need to be aware at half-time to his players, and felt they got it wrong. “We know not to make defensive mistakes and we came out after half-time too sluggish.

We were punished,” said a frustrated Wenger. Arsenal won for the first time in seven trips to the Potteries when they cruised to a 4-1 victory at the end of last season, leading Wenger to confidently predict his team would be able to deal with the often physical threat posed by Stoke.

There was once more a soft core in evidence however and Stoke had little trouble in seeing out the win despite Arsenal enjoying more than 70 per cent possession.

Arsenal thought they had equalised when Alexandre Lacazette rifled in, only for the France striker to be ruled offside – a call that looked very marginal on television replays. Wenger felt they were hard done by.

“I believe we scored a regular goal that was not offside. It is an easy decision. When the ball is kicked he is not offside,” he added.

Arsenal, who conceded three when beating Leicester in their opener, are 13.00 to win the Premier League this season.

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