Wenger: Arsenal deserved to beat Manchester United

The veteran coach felt his side did enough to warrant taking all three points but was pleased with the way the Gunners recovered following Ander Herrera’s first-half opener

Arsene Wenger praised Arsenal’s recovery from a lacklustre first half in Sunday’s 1-1 Premier League draw at Manchester United, though admitted his only regret was that the Gunners did not pick up all three points.

Ander Herrera put the hosts ahead during opening period when Arsenal failed to register a single shot on goal.

But Wenger’s men made a marked improvement after the break and were rewarded eight minutes from time when Theo Walcott’s strike was diverted home by United defender Tyler Blackett.

The result means Arsenal can secure the final automatic qualification spot for the Champions League if they win their game in hand against Sunderland on Wednesday – a result that would condemn fourth-placed United to a potentially tricky play-off to reach Europe’s premier club competition.

“I am pleased with the performance and my only regret is that we didn’t take the three points in the second half,” Wenger said.

“We were a bit slow to start; Manchester United were sharp at the beginning.

“We were a bit stretched as well, width and length-wise. Second half we were more compact and we took over. We showed a great response and got a deserved point.”

Offering an assessment of his team’s sluggish start, Wenger added: “We were a bit too timid, too conservative in our possession, and a bit too far from each other as well.

“In the second half we were more compact and on the counter attack we were quicker.

“We won more duels as well and we had enough chances to win the game in the end.”

Arsenal’s impressive post-Christmas form is set to send them into the FA Cup final in high spirits.

Wenger acknowledged the progress his team have made this season but he stopped short of a rallying call for a title charge next time around.

“That’s difficult to say because you don’t know how strong the teams will be next year,” he said. 

“Man United, Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea – they will all be on the market.”

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