• Premier League

Wenger blames nerves and the 'handbrake' for setback

ESPN staff
February 13, 2014 « Moyes: United can still finish in top four | Chartbeat test »
Arsenal lacking offence

Arsene Wenger admits Arsenal have suffered another attack of nerves as the title race enters a critical period.

The manager described his team as having played with the 'handbrake on' after they wasted a chance to reclaim their place at the Premier League's summit on Wednesday night.

Arsenal were held to a goalless draw by Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium and, with Manchester City's game against Sunderland postponed because of bad weather, they could have stolen a march on their rivals.

"'I felt we were nervous tonight, yes," said Wenger, whose team face Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City next month. "We are usually dangerous breaking through with speedy passing, but they defended very well.

"When you concede five goals like we did against Liverpool on Saturday, maybe that's what you do. The team was highly focused on not conceding after Saturday.

"We missed out on the chance to go top but a point keeps us in the race. We played with the handbrake on tonight. I hope and think the handbrake will come off. We've had two bad results, but we are still in a strong position."

Arsenal have a reputation for failing to fire against their key rivals and, in some quarters, have been branded chokers.

Last season they took just seven points from 10 matches against United, City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Everton - the other teams in the running for the top four.

The trend has continued this term, with Arsenal picking up only four points from four games against their rivals for the title: Chelsea, City and Liverpool. There have also been two hammerings among those results, with a 6-3 defeat at City and last weekend's 5-1 humiliation at Liverpool.

Wenger's team have not fared too well against United either, taking only a point from two meetings with a traditional rival who have slipped badly this season and lost to lesser teams.

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