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Wednesday 7 December 2016

Wenger: We paid price for our defence

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp celebrates with Sadio Mane Photo: Reuters
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp celebrates with Sadio Mane Photo: Reuters

Arsene Wenger admitted Arsenal paid for their lack of defensive cover after they were booed off by their own supporters following a 4-3 Premier League defeat to Liverpool yesterday .

A brace from Philippe Coutinho and goals from Adam Lallana and debutant Sadio Mane put the visitors in complete control at the Emirates after Gunners forward Theo Walcott had missed a penalty and then put the home side ahead.

Sloppy defending from the Reds allowed Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Calum Chambers to bring the hosts back in to contention but Liverpool held on in the final 15 minutes.

Wenger was without experienced defensive trio Per Mertesacker, Gabriel and Laurent Koscielny due to injury and fitness problems, leaving him to pick young English pair Chambers and Rob Holding in central defence.

He said: "We played a very good first half and I think we were unlucky just before half-time to concede the goal because the free-kick (scored by Coutinho) looked very, very harsh. We didn't recover really from that and after that we paid for our lack of experience at the back and the fact that some players are not ready physically to last 90 minutes at that level.

"Over all, it's disappointing because in the first half you think you should come out with at least a one goal (lead) for us and 10 minutes later you are 3-1 down and it was difficult to recover. We did try until the end but we lacked a bit of stability.

"When you're 4-1 down at home it is always very difficult when you have so many young players. At the back you feel that we lack a little bit of maturity but you know that before you go into the game.

Not pleasant

"It's not pleasant but we have shown in the past that we have the mental strength to deal with that and bounce back."

Liverpool midfielder Lallana also believes his side need to improve, despite their victory.

"(It was) very entertaining," he said. "We started the game not so brightly after we thought we had quite a good pre-season but it's always difficult coming to Arsenal.

"The manager had a few words for us at half-time and I thought we came out brilliantly. Football being football, we maybe got a bit complacent at 4-1 but saw it out at the end.

"Arsenal are a top team, we've got a few new players in our squad, still gelling together and if we want to achieve something special this year we're going to have to be more disciplined defensively as a unit.

"I'm sure it was great for the neutral and the punters and it's a great three points for us."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said his celebration with Liverpool players after their fourth goal in the 4-3 win against Arsenal "is not allowed".

"OK, I have a big, big part [to play] in the excitement in the last half hour, because it's not allowed to celebrate the fourth goal when there is still half an hour to go," Klopp told Sky Sports.

"I knew it in the moment, but it was too late. I had Sadio (Mane) already on my back. For this moment we switched off the machines for a second.

"It was so intense, so warm, the first game. We opened the path for them again. Over the whole 90 minutes it's a deserved win. It will always be difficult winning in London against Arsenal."

Asked what pleased him most about the victory, Klopp said: "Staying in the game. It looked like after half an hour, it looked a little bit like it wasn't a Liverpool today, but we struck back, and that's very important. The kind of defending in the last 10 minutes also pleased me."

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