Arsenal boss disappointed with Red Star stalemate, writes Ella Meadowcroft at Ashburton Grove
ARSENAL will need a a better performance tomorrow when they travel to the Premier League leaders Man City, after a boring stalemate with Red Star Belgrade saw them progress to the Europa League knockout stages.
The 0-0 draw was enough for the Gunners to top Group H after Cologne beat Bate Borisov 5-2, leaving the remaining teams battling it out for the second space to qualify for the last 32.
However, manager Arsene Wenger knows his team must improve drastically if they are to get anything from City.
“I think we have to be better when we go to Man City,” he said. “They are a good team, we know that. We’ve seen them this year, they are really good, but we will be ready for it. We have got confidence in each other and ourselves and we will go there full of confidence and hopefully get something out of the game.”
Defender Rob Holding added that in the right frame of mind, Arsenal can battle to a win in Manchester.
“It’s 10 games in and it all looks good for them [Man City]. It will be a difficult game, we’ve just got to go in with the right attitude and keep it secure and try and nick three points.”
Describing Thursday’s result as “fair,” Wenger heaped praise on the visitors. “They [Red Star Belgrade] played at a high pace, they were dangerous on the breaks and they defended well.
“In the second half I felt we dominated possession much more … but we lacked a bit of quality in the final ball and vision to find the right space.”
Red Star, who currently top the Serbian Superliga, came close to edging the home team in the first half as Vujadin Savic’s header rocked the crossbar. Jack Wilshire arguably had Arsenal’s clearest chance of the game, when his 65th-minute attempt was cleared off the line by defender Damien le Tallec.
The visitors were supported throughout by the only fully occupied part of the stadium, the away end.
Red Star’s captain Donald Mitchell, their first even non-Serbian to be given the role, described the travelling fans as “great” and believed his side stood a good chance of securing the three points.
“I’m happy with the point, but we could have won the game.
“We had to stay compact, it takes a lot of effort but our game style is to stay compact and act on the counter attack to try to kill. We did a great job, but you need to score.”
After going behind in their last three games, Holding admitted that they were given strict instructions not to concede in the final few minutes.
“It got shouted on, to make sure we don’t concede. We managed to keep a clean sheet which is important from a defence standpoint.
“If we would have nicked a goal then it would have been ideal but the clean sheet was the main thing.”
Bowing out to boos on the final whistle, it seems even a qualification spot wasn’t enough to keep the home fans happy after a rather tepid display.