Arsene Wenger admitted Arsenal’s continued slump is “very worrying” after they fell to a disappointing 3-1 loss at West Brom in the Premier League on Saturday.
Arsenal have now lost four of their last five league games for the first time in Wenger’s 21 seasons and are looking increasingly likely to finish outside the top four — something that hasn’t happened since the Frenchman took over.
Their latest loss comes after recent defeats to Watford, Chelsea and Liverpool in the league, while the Gunners were also hammered 5-1 twice by Bayern Munich during that stretch.
“It’s very worrying because we are not used to that. And overall we have a hell of a task now to fight back and we need to regroup and of course focus on games that are coming up because we have many big games,” Wenger said after the game.
The abject performance at the Hawthorns will only add to the growing calls from supporters for Wenger to step down at the end of the season, when his contract expires. Saturday’s game started with two separate planes flying over the stadium with duelling banners, one calling for “Wenger out” and another expressing support for the beleaguered manager.
It was another sign of the increasing divisions among Arsenal fans over Wenger’s future, a debate that is likely to grow louder during the upcoming international break.
Arsenal were undone in predictable fashion as West Brom’s Craig Dawson scored twice with headers from corners, despite Wenger having warned before the game that set pieces were the hosts’ main strength.
“I would say it was a typical Premier League game nowadays with one team who has a lot of the ball and a team who defends very well and plays on counterattacks and on set pieces,” Wenger said.
“We knew at half-time, we were at 1-1, that the danger that could come was on a counterattack or on a corner. And we were caught again in the second half. And unfortunately we couldn’t score.”
While Wenger will face the brunt of the criticism after this loss, he refused to blame the players for not taking enough responsibility.
“We take all responsibility. It’s always of course a big disappointment when you lose a game like that but we have all to take responsibility and prepare for the next games,” he said.
“Overall, you must say they score against anybody on set pieces. They’ve scored a lot of goals since the start of the season on set pieces.”
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain issued an apology to Arsenal fans after the game.
“We’re bitterly disappointed. We’re sorry to the fans. That’s not acceptable for Arsenal Football Club,” the midfielder told Sky Sports. “West Brom made it really tough and defended really well. We knew who their danger men were and we failed to stop them.
“We knew who their danger-men were and we failed to stop them which is really disappointing. We will look at that and review what went wrong.
“We have to keep fighting because it’s not been pretty for us recently and I’m sure it’s not going to get any easier anytime soon.”
Mattias is ESPN FC’s Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.