LONDON (Reuters) - Arsenal’s confidence has been undermined by a Manchester City side who are the “best team in the country” the London club’s manager Arsene Wenger said after his battered side suffered a 3-0 thrashing in the Premier League on Thursday.
City beat Arsenal by the same score on Sunday to claim the League Cup and the home side’s back four were again repeatedly sliced apart on Thursday by the rapid, pinpoint passing of the visitors’ scintillating attacking lineup.
“I must say we lost against a top-quality team who is at the moment the best team in the country,” Wenger told reporters after City restored a 16-point lead at the top of the table with goals from Bernardo Silva, David Silva and Leroy Sane.
“We came out of Sunday’s game with a low confidence level, and they came back with a very positive mind, and they took advantage of every defensive weakness we’ve shown in the first half,” added the Frenchman who is under increasing pressure.
As Arsenal’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League with a top-four finish all but disappeared, he said confidence was something you gained slowly but could lose all too quickly.
“You go up by the stairs and come down by the lift - that’s what is confidence,” added Wenger.
“When your confidence is not the best the first thing that goes is fluidity and movement, the spontaneous side of the game, and you’ve seen that tonight. We go through a difficult patch at the moment, and that’s part of football unfortunately.”
The Arsenal coach also singled out striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s missed penalty early in the second half as the moment that ended his team’s hopes on a frozen night in London.
“We needed the penalty to get going, to gain a bit of momentum, and that was the killer basically of the game after that,” he said.
City manager Pep Guardiola praised his Brazilian keeper for denying Arsenal the chance to get back into the match. “Ederson was outstanding, saving the penalty, because the game was not won. Arsenal had chances, but we did our job.”
Reporting by Hugh Lawson; editing by Ken Ferris