(Reuters) - Arsenal twice came from behind to draw 2-2 with Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, with under-pressure coach Arsene Wenger praising his side’s mental toughness as they avoided another collapse.
Arsenal headed into the game having beaten just Hull City and lower league sides Sutton United and Lincoln City since the end of January, against a backdrop of fan unrest over the side’s form and the unresolved issue of Wenger’s future.
The players’ character has been questioned in recent weeks, notably after one-sided defeats by Bayern Munich, and their nerves were evident early on as Leroy Sane capitalised on Arsenal’s disorganised defensive unit to fire City ahead in the fifth minute.
”We started very nervously,“ Wenger acknowledged to Sky Sports. ”We had a refusal to lose the game, we were ready for a fight.
”The test was mental. We had to come back after halftime and we got a point after a time that has been so stressful for us,“ he added. ”It was a strong performance on the mental front.
“Technically we can do better.”
Despite Wenger’s praise, there were familiar signs of petulance and uncertainty from Arsenal’s players, with goalscorer Walcott trudging off unhappily after being substituted, and Mesut Ozil guilty of pulling out of a 50-50 challenge with Willy Caballero when through on goal.
Like Wenger, Danny Welbeck praised his team mates’ character in fighting back, but conceded that there was room for improvement as Arsenal look to salvage a testing campaign.
”We showed character but we have to look at how we conceded goals today,“ the forward added. ”At this point of the season we know it is not good enough. We want to be further up the league and we have dropped two more points.
“Both teams want possession and have lots of attacking players, it was a good game for the neutrals. We wanted three points.”
Arsenal equalised through Theo Walcott, before Shkodran Mustafi’s second-half header cancelled out Sergio Aguero’s strike, but the point leaves the Londoners in sixth on 51 points, seven behind City who currently occupy the final Champions League qualifying berth.
Reporting by Ed Dove; editing by Clare Lovell