English Premiership

No excuses for Arsenal

2011-08-29 17:08
Robin van Persie (File)

London - Arsenal captain Robin van Persie says they can't blame injuries and suspensions for their 8-2 drubbing against Manchester United.

Arsenal conceded the most goals in a game since the 19th century, and coach Arsene Wenger began plotting how to turn around the beleaguered team's fortunes during the two-week international break.

The thrashing at Manchester United on Sunday left Arsenal with just a solitary point after three matches of the Premier League season and plunged Wenger into the deepest crisis of his 15-year reign.

Such was the sense of contrition at Arsenal on Monday that fans who traveled to Old Trafford were told they would be offered the compensation of having a future away match ticket paid for.

Those fans have not seen Arsenal lift a cup for six years and are growing increasingly restless at the team's lack of competitiveness.

Not since 1896 have the Gunners leaked eight goals in a game, with Loughborough Town winning a second-tier match 8-0 on Dec. 12.

Now the pressure is on for the team to produce a stirring response on Sept. 10 at home to newcomer Swansea before beginning the Champions League group stage against Borussia Dortmund.

"The players go away for two weeks and maybe that is a good thing," Wenger said Monday on Arsenal's website. "When they come back we'll have to prepare. Big scores are humiliating and difficult to swallow but I don't think they have a special meaning. They are always under special circumstances."

Those mitigating circumstances are the mounting injury list headed by Jack Wilshere, suspensions and the sale of their best players, captain Cesc Fabregas and midfielder Samir Nasri.

Wenger has until the transfer window closes at 2200 GMT on Wednesday to strengthen his squad.

South Korea forward Park Chu-young is set to join from Monaco, but Arsenal's move for Bolton defender Gary Cahill is floundering - and defence is Arsenal's most obvious weakness.

Van Persie, who had a penalty saved against United when Arsenal was trailing 1-0, said the players shouldn't look for excuses.

"I don't think we can hide behind injuries or suspensions," the striker said. "It is no excuse. They had injuries too, this is football."

And this was a harsh lesson for an Arsenal side often excused for its youth but that had an average age of 23 like United's on Sunday.

"We were poor defensively but there were points in the game where we had quality," Wenger said. "I just feel we collapsed more physically than anything. It is better not to talk too much about this because it hurts. We have to sort out our problems because so far, we haven't managed to do that."

This season, Arsenal has collected more red cards this season than points as Carl Jenkinson on Sunday became the third player to be dismissed in three matches.

Following six trophyless seasons discontent is boiling over at Arsenal, but Wenger says he is not about to walk away from the job.

"I am in a public job and I have to accept that," he said. "I have to make the right decision for the club and I will continue to do that.

"We have played three games and I think you should give me more time to say if I have got it completely wrong."

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