ARSENE WENGER appeared to hint at a U-turn on his transfer policy after his distant Premier League title hopes were finally buried at the Britannia yesterday.
Wenger is considering whether to splash the cash on defenders this summer as he reflects on six years of frustration without a trophy.
Arsenal have conceded the most goals from set plays this season and once again their frailties were laid bare against their bitter enemies Stoke.
And Wenger seems intent on curing the malaise and lifting his self-imposed caution on transfer spending after another wasted campaign.
He said: “We conceded 21 goals from set plays and only 17 from open play, less than anybody else.
“We have been caught on set pieces and [for the first goal] Kenwyne Jones didn’t even need to jump. That is of course something we have to correct and we have to get some experience because I feel we are sometimes a bit naive.
“It was a disappointing performance and the competitive level of Stoke was higher than ours. Overall I think we lost the game because Stoke defended much better than we did, with much more purpose.
“This is the Premier League, if you don’t turn up with the same competitive streak in every game you can lose games anywhere.
“The most important thing was not to be 1-0 down and that’s what we produced when we gave away the first free kick. We were not dangerous enough.”
Wenger has stuck rigidly with his players this season and even defended them after this dreadful display finally killed off his title challenge.
The defeat leaves them nine points adrift of league leaders Manchester United but Wenger refused to castigate his players.
“This team has done overall in the season,” he added. “It’s not the best time to analyse games after a disappointing game and if you analyse all competitions and the number of games we’ve played we’ve done well. Of course something has gone, you can see that today.”
Stoke manager Tony Pulis paid tribute to his players after this comfortable victory, just a week ahead of their FA Cup final with Manchester United.
He said: “We’ve got a cup final only six days away but their commitment and attitude to winning a football match was 110%, without a doubt.
“I think it speaks volumes for them, they’ve given their best. We’re very pleased to have won a game of football. Staying up three years running is a wonderful achievement. The team has improved but we’ve kept that DNA.”
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