'Unlucky' Arsenal may be losing confidence, fears Arsene Wenger
Arsene Wenger blamed bad luck for Arsenal's 2-1 loss to Swansea on Wednesday, but admitted that his players may be struggling with confidence after a third straight defeat.
Arsenal led 1-0 and seemed in total control at the Emirates Stadium before a defensive lapse handed Swansea an equaliser before the break and Ashley Williams then turned in a set piece for the winner against the run of play.
Arsenal created a slew of chances but hit the woodwork three times and were off target on many other occasions, while the team also appealed for a foul on Mesut Ozil shortly before Swansea's equaliser.
"I think it is a very unlucky defeat," Wenger said. "Because we created many chances, and we were unlucky in our finishing. They had two shots on target and two goals. It's a very disappointing game, and the players are very down. But we have to respond to that."
Arsenal missed a golden chance to make up ground in the title race, with rivals Tottenham and Manchester City also losing a day after leader Leicester were held to a draw. The Gunners are now six points behind Leicester and three behind Tottenham ahead of Saturday's North London derby.
This was Arsenal's third straight loss after falling to Barcelona and Manchester United last week, and Wenger acknowledged that a lack of confidence may have played a part on Wednesday.
"It looks like it a little bit," Wenger said. "We have to focus on our job, and remind ourselves that we have some quality as well. And of course analyse it well, and bounce back. We have a big game in three days again."
They will have to do without goalkeeper Petr Cech in that game, as he pulled up with a muscular problem after running up for an Arsenal corner in the final minute. Wenger said Cech will definitely miss the Tottenham game, but did not give a date for his return.
While this was another big blow for Arsenal in the most unpredictable title race in years, Wenger said he was "not in the mood" to discuss whether the team's chances to clinch a first championship since 2004 are slipping away.
"At the moment I am more worried about our results, we just lost three games," Wenger said.
"That is always a very difficult moment for the team. So at the moment we don't dream. We have to be realistic and come back to what we do well, and do the basics," Wenger said. "We will not talk about the title tonight. I am not in the mood to do that tonight."
Wenger had already faced heavy criticism after Arsenal's lacklustre display against Man United, and the Emirates crowd grew increasingly restless as the Gunners struggled to break down Swansea in the second half. Wenger's decision to take off Joel Campbell -- who scored Arsenal's goal and was arguably the team's best player -- was greeted by loud boos.
However, the Frenchman defended the decision.
"Campbell hasn't played for a while and he started to tire. He played against a very young left-back and I thought Welbeck could give him some problems with his runs behind," Wenger said. "That decision doesn't mean Campbell did badly tonight, I think he did quite well. But I think there was room on that flank to be very dangerous."
While the crowd support was vociferous at the start of the game, nearly half the seats in the stadium were empty by the time it ended, and more boos greeted Wenger's men after the final whistle.
"The fans were ready to support us tonight. They were quite good, but we faded in the game and you could see that in the last part of the game we had a lot of lack of movement to create dangerous situations," Wenger said.
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.