Saturday 22 October 2016

Wenger refuses to point finger at Cech after nightmare start

Arsenal 0-2 West Ham

Petr Cech reacts after letting in West Ham's second goal
Petr Cech reacts after letting in West Ham's second goal

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger refused to blame goalkeeper Petr Cech or any individual performances after his side sank to a disappointing 2-0 defeat by West Ham United in their opening Premier League match of the season yesterday.

Cech's arrival after an 11-year trophy-laden spell at Chelsea was met with great optimism by supporters and hailed as the missing piece in Arsenal's quest for a first Premier League title since 2004.


But the Czech international was far from his commanding best at the Emirates, failing to deal with Dimitri Payet's free kick in the build-up to Cheikhou Kouyate's header before being beaten at his near post by Mauro Zarate's low strike.

"I haven't spoken to him (Cech) yet," Wenger said. "I can't see many individual convincing performances today so it's difficult to single someone out.

"It was a collective one. I think there are many things to say about that."

The Gunners were hoping to make a flying start and show that they are serious contenders to challenge for Chelsea crown.

Against Slaven Bilic's well-organised West Ham, however, Arsenal struggled to impose themselves and Wenger was frustrated with the way his team went about their business.

"I think our performance was not convincing," the Frenchman said. "I felt we were a bit nervous and we rushed our game a bit.

"We didn't always respect the basics. We wanted to be too quick going forward in first half. I don't think we were too confident, I would rather say too nervous maybe.

"On top of that, I feel we gave two very cheap goals away and they were at the wrong moments - just before and after half-time. We gave ourselves a mountain to climb."

Arsenal travel to Crystal Palace next Sunday before hosting Liverpool and Wenger has urged his side to bounce back quickly.

"It's difficult but it's part of our job," he said. "A successful season is how you respond to disappointments and it's never a clear motorway.

"We have to respond quickly. We have a tricky start."

West Ham United's Reece Oxford reckoned he had enjoyed "a dream debut" after becoming, at 16, one of the youngest players ever to make a winning bow in the Premier League.

The gangly teen was entrusted with a starting place as a defensive midfielder.

And Bilic was rewarded for his faith with an exceptio nal display by the youngster who helped nullify Arsenal's star-studded engine room.

"Put it this way," said Bilic, a hard-bitten former international. "If Messi was in front of me, I would be more fazed than Reece!"

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