Football

Wenger questions Gunners' mentality

Arsenal boss laments the lack of tenacity from his side after loss to Watford

Arsene Wenger questioned whether his Arsenal side were "mentally ready", after a home defeat by Watford saw their slender English Premier League title hopes take another hit.

The Gunners slipped to third in the table, nine points adrift of leaders Chelsea, as early goals from Younes Kaboul and Troy Deeney set Watford up for a shock victory at the Emirates Stadium yesterday morning (Singapore time).

They hit back through Alex Iwobi after the break, but the Hornets hung on to win 2-1 and record their first league victory since Dec 10.

UNLUCKY

"We were not mentally ready to deal with the duels that we usually do," Wenger said.

"You don't get 47 points in the EPL after 23 games if you have no physical power. But you have to be at 100 per cent every time in the EPL.

"It was not good in the first half, especially the first 20 minutes. We were beaten in the duels, they were sharper than us.

"On top of that, we were a bit unlucky because I felt we were unlucky to concede a free-kick and then it was deflected too.

"After that, we responded. We didn't start the way we wanted but, in the second half, it was all us and we were unlucky to lose the game.

"We did not deserve to lose this game."

An appalling first-half display proved to be their undoing, as the hosts mustered just three wayward efforts on goal in the opening 45 minutes.

Arsenal will go to Stamford Bridge on Saturday knowing they could fall not only further behind Chelsea, but also out of the top four completely if other results go against them.

They are likely to be without Aaron Ramsey, who was forced off with a calf problem, but Wenger has called on his players to respond against the Blues.

"We played at home, we had a great opportunity, but we had a start like we did," he said.

"Of course, it's frustrating and the players will have to learn from that and respond very well and very quickly in a very convincing way."

For Watford manager Walter Mazzari, the result justified his decision to rest almost his entire first team for Sunday's FA Cup defeat by third-tier Millwall.

The Italian made a point of dedicating the victory to former Watford manager Graham Taylor, who passed away on Jan 12.

"My objective is for Watford to stay in the EPL and to make my team grow game by game, week by week," said Mazzarri, whose side are in 13th place.

"Of course, the players need this victory to work better with me and also to believe that they can achieve great things.

"I was very happy at the end because recently we deserved to win some games, but didn't because luck was not on our side.

"We needed a big win, especially for the morale of the team." - WIRE SERVICES

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