Arsene Wenger has demanded a significant improvement from his Arsenal side when Manchester United arrive at the Emirates on Wednesday.
The Gunners started the weekend at the head of the Premier League table, as they looked to maintain this position to land a first league title since 2004. A trip to in-form Liverpool was always going to be one of the trickiest matches remaining in their calendar, and this proved to be the case as they were strictly second best on Merseyside.
The home side were 4-0 up within the first 20 minutes on Saturday, courtesy of a brace from defender Martin Skrtel, and goals from Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling. The latter added a fifth in the early stages of the second period, before a Mikel Arteta penalty finally saw the visiting side register a goal on an afternoon to forget.
With Chelsea brushing aside Newcastle United later in the day, Arsenal are now a point behind their London rivals with 13 fixtures left to fulfil. United are next up at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday evening, by which time the Gunners could be four points adrift, and Wenger has demanded an improvement against the troubled champions.
“What is important is that we respond to that result, especially with a different performance because our performance overall was poor,” said Wenger. “On the concentration level, on pace, on defensive stability, it was very poor and we always looked vulnerable. I just think the whole team have failed to turn up with the right performance.
“We know that you need to be better focused at this kind of level. Overall our performance was just not good enough and I include myself in that performance. For me it is maybe better I don’t talk too much, go home and respond better on Wednesday night. We were very poor – only our fans were good for 90 minutes.”
United suffered another setback in their quest for a top-four finish on Sunday afternoon, when they came back from 1-0 down only to concede a stoppage time equaliser against Fulham at Old Trafford. This leaves them nine points behind Liverpool in the battle for the final UEFA Champions League qualification place, and they are a staggering 15 points behind Chelsea and 14 behind the team they face in midweek.