Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger plays down importance of Man City loss

By Chris BevanBBC Sport at Etihad Stadium
Arsenal lost discipline - Wenger

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has played down the significance of Saturday's 6-3 thrashing by Manchester City on the Premier League title race.

City are now only three points behind the Gunners at the top of the table but Wenger does not see them as the biggest threat to his side's title hopes.

"They are one of the teams to beat, but no more than any other we have played until now," Wenger said afterwards.

"We have played Everton and Southampton and they are as good as City."

City boss Manuel Pellegrini has now claimed thumping wins over three of the teams expected to contest the top four this season - Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham - scoring 16 goals in the process.

But he did not view his side's comprehensive victory over the league leaders as a statement that they are well placed to win the title, saying: "We are not thinking about that at the moment. We have more points to fight for, with six or seven other important teams.

"I don't think it was our best performance of the season because Arsenal scored three goals and that is too much for the amount of chances they had.

"But it was a complete game in terms of our attacking play because it is not easy to score six against Arsenal, who had the best defence in the Premier League, and we had at least five chances to score more."

Wenger felt his side's trip to Napoli in the Champions League on Wednesday - a day after City beat Bayern Munich in Germany in the same competition - had affected his players' performance.

"I don't want to look for excuses after a defeat like that but it did not help," he added. "It was not ideal and you could see we were not as fresh as we could have been."

But the Gunners boss admitted his players only have themselves to blame as they became the latest side to suffer a heavy defeat at the Etihad Stadium, where City have now scored 35 league goals this season.

"Our strength until now has been our defensive discipline but we lost that as the game went on," Wenger explained.

"Whenever we got a goal back we conceded another soon afterwards, and always through bad mistakes.

City could have scored more - Pellegrini

"We had tired legs and in the end we lost 6-3 but what hurts me more is that we had the opportunity to win and put City nine points behind us and, instead, they are three points behind us.

"That is very difficult to swallow because we played a team that was not unbeatable. We conceded many goals but honestly we could have scored six as well.

"We had three offsides given against us which were not offside, and a penalty turned down. The referee had a bad game."

Midfielder Mesut Ozil apologised for not acknowledging the Arsenal fans at the end of the game.

He wrote on his Facebook page: external-link"You have been brilliant to me and I know you had travelled a long way and spent your money to support us.

"I was upset with the result and know I should have come to you to say 'thank you' and I know it is a big Arsenal tradition win, lose or draw."

City's attacking outlook, even when they led 3-1 and 5-2, made for an open and entertaining game and Pellegrini insists he will not change his tactics to see games out in the future.

"For me it is very important to be an entertaining team," he added. "Every manager can think the way they want and maybe some managers prefer to score one goal, then get the whole team back and counter-attack.

"Our philosophy is to continue trying to score more goals because it is the best way to win - playing well and scoring goals."

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