Arsene Wenger plays the sympathy card

14 December 2008 07:34
Arsene Wenger believes that encouragement and a consoling arm is what his young team need more than anything else but it's a harsh, unforgiving, world – just ask Emmanuel Eboue – and the Arsenal players need a forceful reminder that they must do better.

Heading the queue that should assemble outside the manager's office on Monday to receive the stick rather than the carrot, stands Robin van Persie. The Dutchman had four acceptable chances to add to Emmanuel Adebayor's opening goal and place Arsenal's title prospects in considerably better order, but failed to take a single one.

So, for the fifth time in eight league outings, Arsenal failed to win and while Liverpool and Manchester United were unable to capitalise, Aston Villa overtook Arsenal as the elitists became a group of five.

Wenger was not in a crack-the-whip mood, as he put it: "We are a young team under pressure and at the moment they need encouragement more than anything else. Champions are those who go when everybody stops. Nobody believes in us but we want to show we can keep going."

Liverpool's visit on Sunday offers a chance to reignite their campaign and by the law of their inconsistent season it's a game Arsenal – who saw off Manchester United and Chelsea against the odds – will win.

"We have dropped another two points and we are all disappointed," Adebayor said. "We just want to try to keep our dreams alive. We have Liverpool next and if we can get everything working together we've a great chance to beat them. Whatever we have done against Chelsea and United, it's happened. It's all about the next game."

When a dozy defence invited him to apply a simple scoring header to Cesc Fabregas' corner, Arsenal slipped into dominant mode and treated the Riverside to flashes of their one-touch brilliance. Out of the blue came a stunning equaliser from Jeremie Aliadiere, a former Wenger prodigy, who stooped to direct Tuncay Sanli's fizzer of a first-time cross past Manuel Almunia in a blur of high-class action.

Boro manager Gareth Southgate praised a patched-up defence for their commitment and remained upbeat despite the fact his team were robbed of a penalty when Gael Clichy tripped Adam Johnson, an inexplicable oversight from referee Peter Walton. "We don't complain about these things but I'm not sure it's a policy that is doing us any good," he mused.

Source: Telegraph