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Jan 1, 2013

Wenger slams Arsenal players

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger accused his side of showing signs of complacency as they stumbled to a 1-1 draw against Southampton at St Mary's Stadium.

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A deflated Wenger admitted his team did not deserve any more than the solitary point they collected against opponents they beat 6-1 back in September, with the Arsenal manager pulling few punches as he let his players know they had fallen below their recent high standards.

"Considering our performance and the result of the game, I don't think we deserved more today,'' the Arsenal boss said. "It is two points lost if you look at the overall target we had for Christmas. It is frustrating and disappointing as we didn't create a lot today.

"After having scored five at Reading and seven against Newcastle, when you sum it up today with all the chances we created there is not a lot to consider. Our game lacked purpose, penetration and speed, all qualities we have usually but that we didn't see tonight.''

Wenger was clearly irritated by his side's attitude and blamed their mental approach saying there was a lack of "sharpness''.

"It is nothing to do with physical side,'' he said. "Maybe we thought we scored seven against Newcastle, we thought we would score again today, we scored five at Reading, we would score again today.

"A game of that magnitude we had to play today against a Southampton side that was really highly determined. I felt that we lacked purpose in our game and it was more mental than physical.''

Wenger's side are now five points behind local rivals Tottenham in the Premier League standings and a massive 18 behind leaders Manchester United, with the Arsenal boss admitting his side cannot afford too many more dropped points if they are to achieve their targets for 2013.

"We have big games coming up and we want to get back to our normal performance," he added. "What the first half of the season has done is ensure we don't have too much more room for mistakes now. We will sit down an analyse this performance and try to improve."

The result leaves Arsenal fifth in the standings, while Saints move out of the relegation zone on goal difference.

"It just shows things are close at the bottom,'' Southampton manager Nigel Adkins said. "One victory or result and it's going to keep fluctuating.

"The performance on the back of the Stoke performance demonstrates everyone's working hard and fighting for each other. It's only two defeats in 10 games, which is important, but look at how far we've come.

"We got a good hiding down at the Emirates at the start of the campaign - six against us. We've got a growing maturity about the players and the performance underlines how far we have come in growing into the Premier League.

"When you look at it Arsenal have been beating teams out of sight of late but the goal was a deflection and Artur Boruc's not had anything to do in goal from that point of view.

"We had a good shape about ourselves and we were tactically bang on in restricting Arsenal to limited opportunities and when we had the ball we created good opportunities ourselves.''

Information from the Press Association was used in this report

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