Arsene Wenger hopes battling draw against Manchester City can rebuild Arsenal's shattered confidence

James Benge
AFP/Getty Images

Arsene Wenger believes his side’s battling 2-2 draw with Manchester City can help restore confidence in an Arsenal squad shattered by their disastrous recent run of form.

Arsenal twice recovered from a goal down to claim a draw at the Emirates despite a disastrous start to the match in which Leroy Sane had put City ahead after just five minutes.

Theo Walcott took advantage of City’s woeful offside trap to draw Arsenal level after 43 minutes but 131 seconds later the visitors were back in front, Sergio Aguero finding space in the box and hammering home.

The Gunners improved in the second half and got their equaliser through Shkodran Mustafi but still looked vulnerable to City’s explosive counter-attacking force and could have conceded a late penalty when Nacho Monreal appeared to handle the ball.

A draw may do Arsenal little good in their bid to muscle into the top four but after four defeats in five league matches – their worst run since 1995 – Wenger was happy to take the positives from the point.

“We started with quite a high level of anxiety overall and were punished straight away,” he said. “Overall I thought that it was a mental test and you could see that the team was touched on the confidence front. The fluency in our game suffered.

“But we have shown great mental resources as well because we were twice down, and one time at the worst moment in a football game just before half-time. On top of that we lost Koscielny at half-time but we came back to 2-2.

“It will help us to rebuild confidence because the players felt they showed some mental strength. That will help us to come back to our mental fluency.

“Mathematically for both teams it’s not the best operation today. Not for City. Not for us. But we can think about mathematics when the confidence is there again. Hopefully it will help us to restart now.”

Few had been showing those nerves more so than Wenger, who cut a nervous figure in the dugout as his struggling defence battled to hold the vibrant Leroy Sane and ingenious David Silva at bay.

“I care about my team,” Wenger said of his touchline demeanour. “When you have the level of experience I have you have a good measure of the level of anxiety in the team and we were under pressure.

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“It’s difficult, because you’re more mentally tested than anything else. I think we responded in a united, strong way.”

Arsenal’s morale may have recovered at the Emirates but their position in the battle for Europe looks no better than it did at the start of the weekend.

Though the Gunners have 10 Premier League games left to play – one more than City and Tottenham and two more than Liverpool – they must make up seven points to secure their usual berth in the top four.

Asked whether Arsenal had to win all their remaining games to secure Champions League qualification Wenger admitted: “I don’t know. If you look at the results yesterday it’s very difficult to predict what will happen in the last 10 games.

“What we want is to come back to win our games. How many do we need to be in the top four? I don’t know.”