Belfast Telegraph

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger: We showed great mental resource against Man City

Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal have stopped the rot after they twice came from behind to draw 2-2 against Manchester City.

Arsenal looked set for a difficult afternoon when Leroy Sane sprinted clear and gave City the lead after five minutes, but Wenger's men steadied the ship.

Theo Walcott poked in an equaliser and, while parity lasted only 131 seconds, Sergio Aguero restoring City's advantage, Shkodran Mustafi headed home eight minutes into the second half to pull the home side level.

A draw suited neither team. Arsenal remain seven points adrift of City in fourth, albeit having played a game fewer, while Pep Guardiola's team sit 11 points behind league leaders Chelsea.

But for Arsenal, after crushing losses to Liverpool, West Brom and Bayern Munich last month, the result at least restored some confidence.

"Mathematically, it's not the best operation today, not for City and not for us. But we have the confidence gained and we have to restart now," Wenger said.

"We started with a high level of anxiety and were punished straight away. Overall I felt it was a mental test and overall you could see the team was touched on the confidence front. The fluency of our game suffered.

"We have shown great mental resource. The worst time in a football game to concede is just before half-time. On top of that, we lost (Laurent) Koscielny and in the second half we came back to 2-2.

"Overall it will help us to build confidence because the players certainly showed some mental strength and that will help us to come back to our natural fluency."

Arsenal had to do without Laurent Koscielny in the second half after the defender suffered an injury to his Achilles and was replaced by Gabriel.

Wenger was unsure about the extent of the damage to Koscielny but said Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Aaron Ramsey could be available for Wednesday's game at home to West Ham after both missed out.

Arsenal fans staged a march outside the Emirates Stadium before kick-off to protest against Wenger being offered a new contract and, inside, the atmosphere was tense throughout.

At one point in the second period, Alexis Sanchez stood still with his hands on his hips after Mustafi had conceded possession, but Wenger was not concerned.

"I felt he did give everything today," Wenger said of the Chile forward. "I didn't see negative body language. It's the way he is."

On the fans, Wenger added: "I must say, despite all what happened on the fans front, our fans were fantastic today.

"In very difficult moments our fans, at 1-0 down and 2-1 down, could have turned against us but I think they were absolutely sensational to get us through those difficult moments."

City certainly missed an excellent opportunity to capitalise on Arsenal's vulnerability as the visitors again paid the price for some sloppy defending.

They were, however, perhaps unfortunate not to win a penalty late on when Nacho Monreal touched the ball with his hand.

Guardiola said the full-back even admitted after the match that he had committed a foul, but referee Andre Marriner waved away the appeals.

"Monreal said he touched the ball with the hand," Guardiola said. "But he said to me in England in that kind of situation there's no whistles."

Dropping two points could spell the end of City's title hopes, but Guardiola was more concerned about his side's lack of bravery on the ball.

"By November, the people said we were out of the title race, so we are calm on that," Guardiola said.

"But we forgot a little bit to play. I like when my teams play with the ball. Of course they have to run, but I like when they have the personality to play. In some moments, we didn't do that."

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