LONDON -- Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has laid the blame for his side’s failure to sustain a push for the Premier League title on an injury crisis that derailed their season.
The Gunners have gone from title contenders to a side fighting to cling on to their position in the Premier League’s top four after last Sunday’s heavy 3-0 defeat against Everton.
Injuries to Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil have disrupted Arsenal’s plans in recent weeks, and Wenger has lamented losing his star names at crucial times.
“I feel this season we lost key players at a big important moment of the season,” Wenger said, ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal against Wigan.
“At the moment we have too many players out and it’s important we get them back. We know that at this period of the season to have this number of players out is too many.
“Our main task [next summer] will be to keep the team together and think 'where did we go wrong?' There are a lot of positives in our season as well, but we have dropped off when we lost our players at an important moment of the season. That is what we don’t want to repeat.”
This week, Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla said the club need to spend big in the next transfer window if they are to compete with the best for the top honours, yet Wenger insisted his squad does not need a complete overhaul this summer.
“You can always improve in our game,” said Wenger in response to Cazorla’s comments. “When results are not as well, you always think you can improve. There is no perfect team. We’ll always try to improve our squad and our team.
“We just have to focus on finishing as well as we can. We are in a position to do well until the end of the season. It is not about next season, it’s about this season.”
Wenger went on to admit confidence has dipped among his players after recent heavy defeats at Liverpool, Chelsea and Everton, but he is convinced they will respond in the right manner against Wigan at Wembley.
“We know that we didn’t turn up with the performance we wanted [at Everton],” he added. “After the huge disappointment, we analysed what didn’t go right and where we want to improve.
"I said after the game, we want to go back to basics. First of all the team has to defend better and of course that was not right in the Everton game.”