Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has admitted the Gunners are suffering a confidence crisis after their FA Cup failure against Manchester United.
Arsenal’s hopes of ending their trophy drought this season now rest solely on the Premier League following the Gunners’ 2-0 loss to United in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Sunday.
Their latest disappointment comes just days after the Gunners were bundled out of the Champions League by Barcelona, and two weeks after they were defeated by Birmingham City in the Carling Cup final.
Wenger believes he saw an Arsenal side short on belief at Old Trafford on Sunday, but remains hopeful the Gunners will get through this dark period and resume their chase of United in the league.
“I believe that subconsciously the disappointment of Tuesday night has played a part in this game,” Wenger said.
“You could see something has gone. Not in our effort or attitude but confidence wise.”
“It was a strange game today where we put a lot of effort in but at the moment every goalkeeper against us is man of the match.”
“We have to get over this period. Things do not go our way at the moment and that’s why we have to keep going.”
Asked if he still believed Arsenal can still clinch the Premier League title, Wenger said: “I believe we can. It is a good test for us now to show we can regroup, and to show the mental strength, togetherness and respond quickly.”
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson raised eyebrows prior to Sunday’s match by naming seven recognised defenders in his starting XI, putting Brazilian twins Rafael and Fabio on the wings and John O’Shea in central midfield.
The manager said after the match the unusual line-up was not based on tactics but designed to ensure Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes were well-rested ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Marseille.
“That is such an important game for the club and if you look at the injuries in midfield I had to come up with a plan or an idea to utilise our energy,” Ferguson said.
“(Today) was a massive game for both clubs in a fixture that is always going to be intense.”
“In fairness Arsenal played their part in the game but I thought in the second half in particular we played well. It was always going to be a tough tie so we are very pleased.”
“They did have a few good chances and (United goalkeeper) Edwin van der Sar has made some spectacular saves, but we missed a few very good opportunities ourselves so at the end of the day there wasn’t too much in it.”