Arsene Wenger has maintained a positive outlook towards Arsenal’s coming games but admits that the 1-0 defeat away to Norwich yesterday evening felt as a shock to the system that had worked well for the Gunners at the beginning of the season.
With several clean sheets and a plethora of lively performances to start the season, Wenger’s men looked set to challenge Chelsea, Manchester United, and defending champions Manchester City for the Premier League title this season.
Three weeks ago, the Blues dealt the Gunners their first defeat of the season at the Emirates Stadium but that was not enough to stop them from bouncing back impressively with a 3-1 win away to West Ham before the international break.
Unfortunately for Wenger’s side, a solitary Grant Holt strike also brought an end to the unbeaten away record and began perennial taunts that Arsenal are pretenders, not contenders.
While Wenger did not get drawn into that debate this early into the season, he confessed that the loss at Carrow Road was the worst performance from his players this campaign and that it could prove to be unsettling.
“It was a shock to the system today. But you have to give credit to Norwich today. They played well, were completely committed and they deserved the win,” Wenger told Arsenal’s official website after the full-time whistle.
He added: “Maybe we underrated the difficulty we would face. But the Premier League is the Premier League. If you are not ready for the fight then you will always have bad surprises.
“There is a big difference between the amount of possession we had and the amount of chances we created. That is down to the fact that Norwich defended well and we did not create a lot.
“It was the first time of the season we were way below par. And we were well below today.”
The Gunners trail league leaders Chelsea by 10 points after the first eight matches of the season and face a tricky pair of matches at home to QPR and away to Manchester United in the coming fortnight.
But their recovery must begin this Wednesday when they host in-form German outfit Schalke in the UEFA Champions League.